The Blue Jays were on home turf this weekend as the women’s volleyball team hosted the Days Inn Blue Jays Classic at Elizabethtown College’s Thompson Gymnasium.
The team’s first match of the tournament was Friday, Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. against Rochester University. Rochester took the first two sets, winning by six and nine points, respectively. The Blue Jays came back to win the third set, but ultimately lost the match when Rochester won the fourth set by just two points.
In the first set, the Blue Jays gained a slight lead early on and held it until Rochester pulled ahead at 9-8. Rochester then led the scoreboard for the rest of the set until they sealed the win with a kill and an Etown error.
The second set played out similarly, with Rochester pulling ahead at 9-7 and holding on for the rest of the set.
In set number three, the Blue Jays started out strong offensively and got kill after kill, enabling them to set the lead early on in the match. They held on until game point, when Rochester came back with a six point streak to bring the score to 25-24 Rochester. A kill from first-year Elle Shatto tied the game up at 25-25 and two Rochester attack errors gave the Blue Jays their win.
The teams stayed relatively close in score for the final set until Rochester gained four kills and pulled ahead to win the set at 25-23, thus taking the match.
The next morning, Saturday, Sept. 17 the Blue Jays were up against Rowan University and went 3-0 with final set scores of 26-24, 25-18 and 25-23, respectively.
In the three sets against Rowan, Shatto led the Blue Jays’ offense with 15 kills and also contributed defensively with six digs. Sophomore Mackenzie Garner amassed 12 kills and put up three blocks, while sophomore Anna Simpson had eight kills. Sophomore Gabby Anders was the setter for the Blue Jays and had 34 assists. Junior Chelsea Gallagher led the Blue Jays’ defense with eight digs.
In their final match of the tournament, the Blue Jays went 0-3 against Messiah College, who won the tournament.
After Messiah pulled ahead in the first set, the Blue Jays came back with two point streaks of six and five, which set the score at 12-6 Etown. The Blue Jays played consistently until the score reached 20-16, and Messiah came back with a seven-point streak of their own, taking the lead back at 21-20. The teams went point for point until two Blue Jay errors and a kill got Messiah the win at 25-22.
The Blue Jays led the second match until game point when Messiah brought the score to 25-24 with a five point streak of their own. They then went on to win the match at 28-26 following a kill and two Blue Jay errors. In the third and final set, Messiah snagged the lead early on and held it until they won the match at 25-13.
Garner had 14 kills in the three sets against Messiah with Shatto contributing 11. Defensively, Gallagher had 10 digs. Anders was the setter for the Blue Jays and had 25 assists.
According to junior Emily Sexton, the Blue Jays went into this tournament with two goals to play consistently and to “raise [their] level of play for each game in the tournament.” Both these goals were achieved this weekend, and the team learned a lot in their match against Messiah, in which they “performed the best [they] have this season,” according to Sexton. This knowledge will come in handy when Etown faces off against Messiah later in the season.
In a non-conference match with Muhlenberg College on Tuesday evening, the Blue Jays were looking for their ninth win in nine games against the Mules. The two teams first met in 1983, and Muhlenberg had not earned a victory against Etown prior to this year.
Tuesday night proved history incorrect as the Mules dominated the match, winning all three sets en route to their ninth win of the season.
Muhlenberg took the first two sets by a score of 25-17 before Etown forced the third set to go to 28 points. The visitors earned the 28-26 third set victory to complete the sweep.
Garner had another standout performance for the Blue Jays, recording 13 kills on 21 attempts for a .571 hitting percentage.
Next up, the Blue Jays will play Goucher College and Catholic University Saturday, Sept. 24 at Landmark Conference Weekend.