Garnet Stopped in Quarters

Garnet Stopped in Quarters

Box Score

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.–The Swarthmore College volleyball team's storybook run in the NCAA Division III Tournament ended at the quarterfinals on Thursday, Nov. 16 with a 3-0 (15-25, 27-29, 19-25) loss to third-ranked and top-seeded Wittenberg University.

Swarthmore's tenacious defense was the highlight of the performance and drew praise from head coach Harleigh Chwastyk and her Wittenberg counterpart, Paco Labrador, during the post-match press conferences. Leading the way for the Garnet on that end was Sarah Girard, who recorded a match-high 24 digs and broke the program single-season dig record of 565 previously set by Hillary Santana '12 in 2011. Girard, who has recorded 1,571 digs in her three-year career, is also 14 away from matching the program career record held by Madison Heppe '16.

Malia Scott posted a double-double with 21 assists and 11 digs while Mehra den Braven finished with eight kills and 10 digs. Guin Mesh chipped in an additional 10 digs as Emma Morgan-Bennett and den Braven each had a pair of block assists. Senior Olivia Leventhal capped off her career with eight kills and classmate Alice Liu notched five in that category with just one error.

The Garnet got off to a slow start in the first set and fell behind 4-0. A 5-1 run, however, evened the score and gave Swarthmore confidence. The Tigers would open up another four-point lead before the Garnet fought back to within one on a den Braven-Morgan-Bennett combination block. Wittenberg demonstrated its championship pedigree by taking five of the next six points to give itself enough separation and establish control of the set.

Swarthmore shook off its nerves and played a tightly-contested second set, highlighted by 18 ties and seven lead changes. Girard was all over the court with 11 digs in the frame while Leventhal and Liu combined for seven kills and one error. At 20-all, a Wittenberg service error gave Swarthmore a side out, but the Tigers earned their serve back on the next point. The teams tied again at 22-22 before the Garnet looked poised to tie the match after a kill by Isabelle Andrews and a block by Liu and Leventhal.

The Tigers saved two set points and then gave the Garnet an opportunity with another service error. Swarthmore could not capitalize, but managed to deny their opponents two set points at 25-26 and 26-27. Unfortunately, Wittenberg won the battle of attrition and doubled their lead to 2-0.

Swarthmore forced an early Tiger timeout at 3-0 in the third set. The Garnet carried their momentum after the break until a six-point streak gave Wittenberg a two-point advantage at 12-10, which they later transformed to a 19-13 lead. Kills from den Braven and Leventhal aided the Swarthmore cause and the Garnet kept fighting until to the very end when a Wittenberg kill concluded the match and Swarthmore's historic season.

The senior quintet of Wallace, Liu, Leventhal, Malia Scott and Bridget Scott finishes its Swarthmore career with 97 wins, the most by any class in program history. In the past four seasons, the Garnet have finished either second or third in the Centennial Conference and claimed two ECAC titles to go with an NCAA National Quarterfinal appearance. Wallace ends her career as the program leader in kills (1576) among several other categories. Malia Scott has also etched her name in the record books with 127 matches played, the most by any Garnet player.