Hopkins Sweeps Saint Benedict in NCAA Quarterfinals

Hopkins Sweeps Saint Benedict in NCAA Quarterfinals

NCAA Bracket 

Release courtesy of Johns Hopkins Athletic Communications

The Basics 
• Score: #6 Johns Hopkins – 3 • #15 College of Saint Benedict – 0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-14)
• Records: #6 Johns Hopkins (23-0, 10-0 Centennial) • #15 College of Saint Benedict – (26-6, 8-3 MIAC)
• Location: Cedar Rapids, IA • U.S. Cellular Center
• The Short Story: The second-seeded Johns Hopkins volleyball team continued its dominance Thursday night, cruising to yet another three-set sweep, this time knocking off the College of Saint Benedict in the program's first-ever trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals. The Blue Jays become the first team in Centennial Conference history to advance to the Final Four with the victory. 

How it Happened

SET ONE
• Hopkins grabbed the first multi-point advantage of the opening game thanks to a 7-0 run that gave the Jays a 13-7 lead. JHU found success at the net, scoring a pair of blocks, first from Lauren Anthony and Louisa Kishton and then Anthony teamed with Natalie Aston, during the seven unanswered run.
• CSB would answer with a 4-0 run of their own, fueled by a pair of blocks from All-American Madison Weiss in the middle. The run cut the Bennies deficit to 13-11, and they would ultimately claw all the way back to even the set at 19-19
• It was time for Hopkins to answer once again. Aston followed a pair of St. Ben's attacking errors with a kill, and Eleni Panagopoulos followed with an ace to push the lead back to 23-19. CSB was able to fight off three straight set points, but after Kishton's initial attack attempt was kept back on the Hopkins side, she gave it another go on the next touch to finish off the opening frame 25-22 for the Jays.

SET TWO
• The second set would mirror the opener with both teams exchanging side out points through the first 11 points. Hopkins capitalized on another one of their signature runs to extend what was a 6-5 lead, to 13-5 following seven unanswered points. Kishton and Aston both tallied a pair of kills during the run, and Panagopoulos would add her second ace of the night to take control of the set.
• St. Ben's would get as close as 17-14, but, as they have done all season, the Jays would answer to halt any momentum that they may have lost. Simone Bliss' kill made it 18-14 and another attacking error from the Bennies pushed the Blue Jay lead back to five.
• Aston's third kill of the set gave Hopkins set point at 24-17, and this time, Hopkins punctuated the game on its first set-point opportunity with a Kishton ace.

SET THREE
• There would be no drama in the third set, as the Jays raced out to a 4-0 lead thanks to a pair of Bliss kills. St. Ben's would fight to get the score back to 7-6, but another 6-0 Hopkins run would be all the Jays needed to regain control of the match.
• Bliss would go on to total five kills in the decisive third set, and the Jays scored four points with the junior at the service line to push the lead 19-11. Back-to-back aces from Nicole Hada made it 23-12, and after a long rally, Anthony's block on Madison Weiss' swing from the middle put the exclamation point on the match and sent Hopkins to tomorrow's Semifinal.

Inside the Box Score
• Hopkins was stellar defensively, stymying the Bennies' All-American duo of Hunter and Madison Weiss. The pair of First-Team All-Americans entered Thursday's Quarterfinal averaging just over seven kills per set between the two of them, and the Jays were able to limit them to just ten combined kills on 29 attempts (.345) for the match.
• Bliss continued her dominant postseason with a match-high 16 kills. The junior First-Team All-American has totaled double-digit kills in all six of the Blue Jays' postseason matches dating back to the Centennial Conference Semifinal against Swarthmore.  
• Facing one of the nation's top blocking teams, Hopkins found success with Aston's size and aggressiveness at the net. The junior scored a season-high seven kills on 11 attacks, the most attack attempts she has had in a three-set match this season.

What it Means
• The Blue Jays' historic season rolls on as the team punches its ticket to the program's first-ever Final Four.
• Hopkins is riding a remarkable 38-consecutive set stretch without surrendering a game. They still have not dropped a set since Oct. 17 against Stevenson.
• The matchup was the first-ever between the two programs and marked the Blue Jays' first meeting with a member of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference since they tussled with St. Thomas back in 2013. Hopkins was 0-3 previously against members of the MIAC, all of which came against St. Thomas.

Up Next
 The Blue Jays will take on six seed Trinity (Texas) in Friday's semifinals at 7:30 p.m. CST.