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Fords Drop Pair of Matches at Carnegie Mellon Invitational

Zoe Wong
Zoe Wong

PITTSBURGH – On the final day of action at the Carnegie Mellon Mini Invitational, the Haverford College volleyball team dropped a pair of matches, falling in a neutral site matchup with Denison, 3-1, before being swept by the host No. 6 Carnegie Mellon. The Fords are now 15-12 on the season following the late-season excursion from conference play. Set scores for the Denison match were 22-25, 19-25, 25-18, 14-25. Set scores for the Carnegie Mellon match were 21-25, 16-25, 21-25.

Denison 3, Haverford 1

In the first ever meeting between the two programs, Sara Matsumura matched a career high with 20 kills and chipped in 14 digs against the Big Red. Matsumura also posted three blocks in the morning match to lead the way for the Fords.

The Fords were in a closely contested first set, with the score deadlocked at 9-9 before a 5-0 run gave the Big Red a 14-9 lead, prompting a Fords timeout. A block from Matsumura and Julia Gallagher-Teske cut the lead to just three at 14-11 and Haverford eventually tied the set at 21-21 before a 3-0 run gave Denison set point at 24-21. Matsumura cut the lead to two with a kill at 24-22, but Denison used a Kaila Kasper kill to take a 1-0 lead in the match. 

The Fords and Denison were tied early in the second set, with Denison turning an 8-8 tie into a 16-11 lead before the Fords called for a timeout. The lead stretched to 20-14 with a kill from Leah Reinfranck and a .316 hitting percentage allowed Denison to maintain a lead of no fewer than four for the remainder of the set, taking a 25-19 victory.

Haverford rallied to take the third set, as the two sides were again in lockstep early. A 12-12 tie was turned into a 16-12 Haverford lead behind a 4-0 run that included kills from Matsumura, Gallagher-Teske, and Claire Nicholas as well as a service ace from Sydney Miller. Denison kept the match close, getting to within two at 16-18 with a Reinfranck kill before a 4-0 run gave the Fords a 22-16 lead that the squad would not relinquish. Haverford hit a match-best .366 in the set to cruise to a 25-18 victory.

The fourth set saw a hot Big Red squad open up an early 15-5 advantage before the Fords battled back to cut the lead to 19-13. Denison finished the match on a 6-1 run to take the set 25-14 and the match 3-1, hitting .436 while limiting Haverford to a .103 hitting percentage with a near flawless set offensively. 

Matsumura led three Fords with double-digit kill totals while Gallagher-Teske paced the squad with four total blocks. Matsumura and Nicholas each contributed two service aces. Zoe Wong had 37 assists. Kasper had 13 kills to lead Denison while Reinfranck added 12. Kristin Thewes had 29 digs for Denison while Julia Miller added 29 assists.

#6 Carnegie Mellon 3, Haverford 0

The Fords came back for the second game of the day against a 24-1 Carnegie Mellon squad, the sixth-ranked team in the nation. Haverford was paced by Natalie Pisch who posted a double-double with 14 kills and 15 digs, setting the program record for total attacks in a three-set match with 57. Matsumura also posted a double-double, with 11 kills and 15 digs for her eighth straight double-double effort and ninth straight contest with double-digit totals in digs. 

The Fords outhit the Tartans in the first set, .174 to .107. Carnegie Mellon started the contest on an 8-1 run, but the Fords quickly turned things around, trailing by just one at 12-11 after a Madison Adore kill capped the comeback. Haverford tied the score at 13-13 with a Nicholas service ace and again at 16-16 following an attack error from Carnegie Mellon. The Fords later trailed by just one at 21-20 following a Matsumura kill, but the Tartans rallied for four of the final five points to open the afternoon with a 25-21 set victory.

The second set saw the hosts turn on the jets offensively, hitting .304 and creating separation in the middle part of the stanza.  Carnegie Mellon turned an early 11-6 lead into a 19-11 advantage, sprinting to a 25-16 victory behind solid blocking from Lizzy Thrasher, Amanda Thiele, Lauren Mueller, and Sahara Aqui.

The third was characterized by an early spurt from the Fords, as Haverford pulled ahead 14-9 following back-to-back kills from Pisch. A 9-0 run for the Tartans turned the early momentum around as Carnegie Mellon took an 18-14 lead behind six kills from Sarah Jurgens in the run. The Fords were within two points at three separate instances in the latter stages of the third set, pulling to 21-19 with a Nicholas service ace and 22-20 with a Matsumura kill. Ultimately, the Tartans were again able to utilize a multifaceted approach with Jurgens contributing both offensively and defensively and the blockers stepping up to seal a sweep with a 25-21 victory.

Wong had 30 assists to pull to a total of 2,953 career assists. The number is good for fourth all-time in program history. Nicholas registered 16 digs and two service aces. For the Tartans, Jurgens had a match-best 18 kills while Kayla Yew added 22 digs. Maia So-Holloway had 31 assists and Aqui led the way with five total blocks. 

After a weekend idle from conference play, the Fords sit at 4-4, locked in a three-way tie for the fifth and final playoff spot.  The Fords travel to Bi-Co partner Bryn Mawr on Wednesday, October 25 for a 7 p.m. match before hosting Tri-Co and Hood Trophy rival Swarthmore on Senior Day, Saturday October 28 at 1 p.m.

Wong, Haverford's lone senior, will be honored prior to the Swarthmore match.