Returning as veterans of ECAC postseason competition, the Women’s Volleyball team knew what hard work lay ahead in order to repeat their championship win. After a crushing 3-2 loss to Johns Hopkins University in the Centennial Conference championship tournament, the Garnet focused their attention solely on finishing the season on a high note in the ECAC tournament. Although certainly disappointed by their defeat, the Garnet did not allow the situation to dampen their work ethic but rather relied on their impressive team chemistry to overcome challenges on the court.
“Our team has one of the best energies I’ve ever experienced. The girls are too fun, weird, and loving,”said Emma Morgan-Bennett ’20. On Sunday, Nov. 13th at Lebanon Valley College, all of that hard work came to fruition as the Garnet topped both NYU and Emerson College in 3-1 and 3-0 matches respectively, thereby securing their second consecutive ECAC title.
After dropping their first set to NYU, the Garnet rallied back to win the second set, led by veterans Amanda Reed ’17 and Christina Shincovich ’17, as well as tournament MVP Sarah Wallace ’18. However, that shift in momentum carried the team through the finish line as they handily dropped NYU in the next two sets, and followed that by trouncing Emerson in straight 25-12, 25-12, 25-19 sets. In the stunning championship victory over Emerson, the Garnet posted impressive numbers, with 11 aces and a staggering .319 hitting percentage. Wallace and Olivia Leventhal ‘18 finished as team leaders, with 26 and 16 kills respectively.
Following the route of Emerson, the team appeared ecstatic as they raised the trophy overhead and paused to reflect on the season. As Isabelle Andrews ’20 stated, “Overall, our season was pretty incredible. We grew and learned so much about ourselves and the team as the season progressed.” However, the maturity and discipline among the players was clearly evident as they also recognized those that had led and taught them up to this point.
“This season was a such an honor to be a part of. We can all see how much our coaches push us to exceed their expectations, all while still caring and nurturing us,” Morgan-Bennett said,
However, the championship game also proved to be even more special for Wallace, as she not only won tournament MVP, but also reached the challenging feat of 1,000 digs in her collegiate athletic career. According to the Swarthmore Athletics page, she is the 11th player to achieve the daunting record in program history and only the fifth at Swarthmore to have 1,000 kills and digs. Sarah Girard ’19 also won All-Tournament honors and appears set to become the 12th player to reach 1,000 kills, as she currently stands at 988 with two seasons of eligibility left.
Now a consistent force to be reckoned with in the ECAC and Centennial Conference, the Garnet look forward to future success as they return their entire starting lineup for next year. As Andrews said, “I’m very optimistic about next year, and can’t wait to see how far we’ll go.”