Streaking Volleyball Too Much for Dickinson

According to coach Harleigh Chwastyk, success “starts with the first pass.”And with that first pass, the Swarthmore women’s volleyball team propelled themselves past the Dickinson Red Devils on Saturday afternoon in straight sets – 25-3, 25-17, and 25-10. The Garnet are now riding on a nine-game, 27-set winning streak that has only been matched once, by the 2010 team.Leading the team’s offense was Zahra Ahmed ’15, who finished the game with an impressive 0.562 hitting percentage. “It was great to play on the outside. It’s an exhilarating and challenging position,” said Ahmed. Her excitement was made clear on the court, as she tallied 11 kills and two block assists for the game.

On the other side of the spectrum, Danielle Sullivan ’14 led the team in defense, ending the afternoon with 11 digs. Kat Montemurro ’13 totaled two service aces to lead the team.

Going into the game, Chwastyk expected a challenge from the Red Devils. “I knew that they were young, and I knew that they were pretty scrappy on defense,” she said. However, her team quickly took control of the first set, and were in command of the match for its entire duration.

Montemurro’s strong serves helped the Garnet outrun their opponent, gaining a 15-1 point lead that was untouchable for the remainder of the set. Ahmed credited much of her team’s success to their aggressive offense, explaining, “Dickinson’s go-to hitter was their outside. When we attacked the floor with our serving and hitting, she never really had the chance to hit.” The team finished the first set with a formidable 0.579 hitting percentage, averaging only one error per 19 attempts.

The second set proved slightly more difficult, as Dickinson began playing with less tension and more drive. “We ran into some trouble in the second set with serve and serve receive,” recalled Ahmed. The two teams saw each other tied at both two and eight points apiece before the Garnet slowly pulled away. “We picked up the energy and recovered quickly,” said Ahmed.

The team finished the third and final set in similar fashion to the first, building off kills by Sullivan and Ahmed to finish off Dickinson. “I’ve been working on different aspects of my hitting and blocking in practice,” said Ahmed. “I hope this continues to translate in games.”

Despite this unparalleled start to an undoubtedly promising season, Chwastyk refuses to relax. “I look at it day to day, match to match,” she said. In her eyes, there is still a sea of possibilities to reach. “I have an ongoing list of things we need to work on…the pursuit role, our offense off a bad pass, and transitioning out of system more effectively,” she listed.

When asked if she was concerned that her players might lose their focus, Chwastyk answered quickly with a short, simple “Nope.”

“We’re going to treat every match the same, and we’re going to work our best every time we step on the court,” she said.

Not ones to relax, her players plan on competing with the same level of intense determination. “We’re doing a great job at playing aggressively and recovering from any lapses. Everyone is committed to finishing each point and set,” said Ahmed.

Looking at their schedule, the Garnet will need all the physical and mental toughness they can muster, as they take on Franklin & Marshall on Wednesday and Johns Hopkins on Sunday. Two conference games against two of the top teams in the conference. Some might see it as a daunting challenge, but not Chwastyk.

“In 2010 we were the underdog team. This year, people expect things from us,” she said. So far, the Swarthmore women’s volleyball team has not disappointed.

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