• Score: Johns Hopkins-3, Stevenson-1 (25-21, 25-19, 19-25, 25-16)
• Records: Johns Hopkins (26-3), Stevenson (33-2)
• Location: Owings Mills, MD • Owings Mills Gymnasium
• The Short Story: The Johns Hopkins volleyball team won the first two sets and held off a rally by host and second-seeded Stevenson to knock off the Mustangs, 3-1, in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Division III Women’s Volleyball Tournament. The Blue Jays advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history and will meet Swarthmore in Sunday’s regional final with a trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals on the line.
How it Happened
1st Set – The Blue Jays grabbed the first set by a score of 25-21 on the strength of 18 kills, including six by freshman Simone Bliss. Johns Hopkins trailed 10-9 when freshman Natalie Aston stepped to the service line and ignited a 3-0 run for the Blue Jays that gave them a 12-10 lead. Stevenson drew within one on four different occasions at 12-11, 14-13, 15-14 and 18-17, but the Blue Jays answered each time and took the set on an attack error by the Mustangs.
2nd Set – Johns Hopkins never trailed in the second set and picked up a 25-19 victory. The Blue Jays led 12-10 when junior Esther Hong served up four straight points to extend the lead to 16-10. Stevenson was within five several times down the stretch, but senior Elizabeth Wuerstle answered three times with kills and the Blue Jays closed it out on a Louisa Kishton kill to give JHU the two-set lead. Hopkins hit .462 (15-3-26) to fuel its performance in the set.
3rd Set - Stevenson jumped to a 9-2 lead and never let the Blue Jays get closer than four the rest of the way. The Mustangs collected nine kills, held JHU to a .143 hitting percentage in the set and benefitted from five Blue Jay service errors to pull within 2-1.
4th Set – After a back-and-forth start saw the teams battle to a 10-9 Johns Hopkins advantage, the Blue Jays took control with a nine-point run to take a 19-9 lead that they never relinquished. Kishton held serve during the 9-0 run, which included three aces and three kills by senior Kristi Rhead. Stevenson halted the run with a kill, but never got closer than eight points down the stretch and back-to-back kills by Kishton and Wuerstle closed out the victory for the Blue Jays.
What it Means
• Johns Hopkins improves to 26-3 and has won six straight and is 24-1 in its last 25 matches dating back to September 8.
• The Blue Jays assured an All-Centennial Conference regional final with the win as Swarthmore had knocked off top-seeded Carnegie Mellon, 3-0, in the first match earlier in the day.
Inside the Box Score
• The Blue Jays collected 61 kills to just 36 for the Mustangs and hit .252 compared to just .141 for the hosts.
• Four Johns Hopkins players hit double-figures in kills as Bliss (17), Wuerstle (15), Rhead (11) and Kishton all had at least 10 in the victory. Rhead had five of her 11 kills in the deciding fourth set and Kishton added a team-high five aces to go along with her 10 kills and 11 digs.
• Annika Schwartz was the only Mustang to reach double-figures in kills (10) and she added 11 digs as well. The Mustangs did not register a service ace in the match.
• Johns Hopkins and Swarthmore will play at 2 pm on Sunday in the regional final with the winner advancing to next week’s NCAA Quarterfinals in Grand Rapids, Michigan.