OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Two points away from victory, senior Malia Scott stepped up to the service line and delivered consecutive aces as the Swarthmore College volleyball upset 10th-ranked Carnegie Mellon, 3-0, on Saturday, Nov. 11 to advance to the third round and regional final of the NCAA Tournament.
The Garnet have not dropped a set in two NCAA matches after today's 25-16, 25-20, 25-18 victory.
The win was Swarthmore's third over a ranked opponent in program history. The most recent came almost two years ago on Nov. 14, 2015 when Swarthmore captured the ECAC South title over #25 Carnegie Mellon.
For the second consecutive match, Swarthmore used its defense to smother its opponent's attack. The Garnet limited the Tartans to a .130 hitting percentage behind 98 digs, with 35 coming courtesy of junior libero Sarah Girard. Mehra den Braven added 24 digs to with 15 kills while Sarah Wallace also had a double-double behind 10 kills and 11 digs. Scott posted a well-rounded effort with 33 assists, 12 digs, five kills and four aces, including the match-winner. Guin Mesh also reached double figures in digs with 13 to her name.
Swarthmore started strong in every single set and trailed for only three points in the match, which all came early on in the third. In the first, den Braven swung three kills for the Garnet's first four points and recorded six total in the set. A 3-0 run was punctuated with an ace from Wallace, which forced a CMU timeout. The Tartans later rode a five-point run to trim its deficit to one, but a huge 6-0 streak on den Braven's serve provided an emphatic response. With Scott serving, Wallace buried a kill and put the Garnet ahead by one set.
In the next frame, the teams traded points until 7-6 with CMU serving. A marathon point with numerous spectacular digs from both sides got the crowd on its feet with bated breath. After an endless rally, Wallace finally swung a kill and the Swarthmore bench and faithful erupted in celebration. The Garnet rode the momentum to four more points for a 12-6 advantage. Swarthmore led by as many nine in the set (21-12) and weathered a brief comeback attempt to take a 2-0 lead overall.
With an appearance in the regional final on the line, both teams dug in. The Tartans led early at 4-2, but the Garnet took 11 of the next 13 points to establish control of the match. Another run put the Garnet ahead, 20-12, which led to a CMU timeout to collect itself. A 4-0 Tartan run led to a TO on the other end, Swarthmore's second of the entire match. Elise Cummings moved the Garnet three away with an ace and Emma Morgan-Bennett swung a kill to make it 23-18. Scott's third and fourth aces of the match sealed the deal and kept the Garnet's storybook run alive.
Swarthmore is the first team in the Centennial Conference to reach since the Sweet 16 since Haverford achieved the feat in 2007. Harleigh Chwastyk is also the first female head coach in Swarthmore athletics history to win multiple NCAA Tournament contests in a single season. In addition, the volleyball team is the first Swarthmore team in any sport to reach the third round since the women's soccer program made the national quarterfinal in 2015.