OWNINGS MILLS, Md. = On the same Owings Mills Gym floor where less than a month ago, they were defeated, Saturday afternoon saw the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays (25-3) revenge that loss at the hands of the Stevenson Mustangs (33-2) by eliminating them from the 2017 NCAA Division III Women’s Volleyball Championships, three sets to one (25-21; 25-19; 19-25; 25-16).
Stevenson had defeated Johns Hopkins at home back on October 19th by three sets to one that night.
Freshman OH Simone Bliss had a match-high 17 kills for Johns Hopkins. Senior OH Elizabeth Wuerstle contributed 15 kills and Sophomore OH Louisa Kishton added five service aces for the Blue Jays. They still had a total of 17 service errors in the match.
The Mustangs Senior OH Annika Schwartz was the only Stevenson player in double digits for kills, with 10.
Johns Hopkins was off and running out of the gate, quickly amassing a 6-2 lead. Stevenson answered with their own 6-0 run, taking the lead at 8-6. Just a few points later, trailing 10-8, The Blue Jays use a 4-0 run and the lead changed hands again, with Johns Hopkins now leading 12-10. Johns Hopkins would lead for the rest of the set and eventually won it on their second set point. Schwartz was credited with an attack error and Johns Hopkins won the first set, 25-21, and an early one set to none lead.
Neither team could seized momentum until leading 12-10, Blue Jays go on a 4-0 run, making the lead their biggest of the match so far, 16-10. A modest 8-6 run would give Johns Hopkins it’s first set point in the second set at 24-16. A Mustangs kill from Sophomore OH Katie Leftridge and back to back attack errors by Blue Jays Freshman S/MB Natalie Aston and Kishton and suddenly Johns Hopkins were now facing their fifth set point up 24-19. A kill by Kishton shocked the mostly pro-Mustangs crowd as the Blue Jays captured the second set, 25-19, and a nearly impossible two sets to none lead.
Stevenson knew their 21-match winning streak was in serious jeopardy, but it didn’t stop them from scoring nine of the first 11 points in the third set and a 9-2 lead. Closest Johns Hopkins got in the set was down by four, at 22-18, and on Blue Jays Senior S/MB Kristi Rhead’s service error, Stevenson was now officially on the board, winning set three, 25-19. But Johns Hopkins still had a two sets to one lead.
Johns Hopkins started set four on a 5-2 run before Stevenson goes on a mini 3-0 run to even the score at 5-5. The last tie of the match happened at 6-6. On a Wuerstle kill, Johns Hopkins took back the lead at 7-6. A 12-3 Blue Jays run, giving them an over-whelming 17-9 lead and Stevenson had to call a time-out. Only managing to slightly chip away at the lead, eventually Johns Hopkins found themselves not only at set point but match point at 24-16. The next pointed ended on a Wuerstle kill and Johns Hopkins got sweet revenge and eliminated Stevenson from the tournament, winning the fourth set, 25-16, and the match three sets to one.
Though Johns Hopkins continues in the tournament, we still need to give props to the Stevenson Mustangs for a job well done. They won their sixth consecutive Middle Athletic Conference championship and had a 21-match winning streak that came to an end yesterday.
Hopefully, these two teams will continue to make tournament time in Maryland an every year thing.