BALTIMORE - The second-seeded Haverford College Volleyball team (23-4) defeated third-seeded Swarthmore (13-8), 3-0, in the semifinals of the Centennial Conference Volleyball Championships on Saturday afternoon inside Goldfarb Gymnasium. As was the case when the two programs met a week ago, Haverford delivered a 25-20, 25-23, 30-28 sweep with a wild third-set victory, closing out the triumph in extra points at the neutral site.
Kendall Otridge set a new career high with 18 kills to pace the Fords offensively, while Dina Kosyagin tallied nine kills. Sara Hunsberger had another solid performance with 35 assists and 18 digs, proving to be a steadying force in the middle yet again. Juliet Young showcased her defensive prowess with 16 digs while Téa Kuzbari also contributed three aces. The blocking effort was paced by Taylor Jones as the first year notched four blocks, including a stoppage to seal victory for Haverford.
In the first set, the Fords and Garnet had trouble shaking each other, with the score knotted at 10-10 in the early goings. A 4-0 run for Haverford helped provide some breathing room and an emphatic block from Jones and Otridge gave the Fords a 19-15 advantage. Swarthmore called for another timeout down by five at 23-18, and four attack errors down the stretch doomed the Garnet in the frame.
Haverford stifled the Garnet hitters out of the gates in that initial set, holding Swarthmore to a negative hitting percentage in the first stanza as the Garnet mustered just five kills against a stout Haverford defensive effort.
The second saw the Garnet open up on a 10-5 run, prompting an early timeout from the Fords. Haverford clawed back into things, tying the score at 14-14 with a solo block from Jones, and an assisted stoppage from Jones and Otridge then gave Haverford the lead. A 6-2 Haverford run again vaulted the Fords, but Swarthmore had another spurt to trim the lead to just one before Abby Holland and Jones contributed kills to send the Fords to a 2-0 lead in the match.
The third set again saw the Garnet on a spurt to begin play, with Swarthmore jumping out to a 4-1 lead. Haverford rallied to tie, but another run from the Garnet prompted a Haverford timeout down 13-8. With Isabel Schwam at the service line, Haverford erupted for a 4-0 stretch to fire up the many fans who made the trip to Baltimore, forcing Swarthmore into a timeout with Haverford back within one.
The two sides could not find much separation in the closing moments of the back-and-forth frame, but the Garnet made the most of its offensive opportunities, earning set point at 24-22. Fending off two set points, Otridge found the floor with consecutive kills, and was crucial down the stretch with four kills in the extra points before Jones notched a solo block to send Haverford on to the final.
The Fords now advance to Sunday's Centennial Conference Championship game against host and top-seeded Johns Hopkins. The contest is slated to begin at 1 p.m. inside Goldfarb Gymnasium. Haverford is making its first appearance in the Centennial Championship Game since the 2015 season. In total, Haverford has hoisted the Centennial Conference championship trophy on four occasions, rising to the top of the conference in consecutive seasons from 2006 to 2009. Haverford also made the NCAA tournament as an at-large selection in 2014.
FORDS WIN!! After another epic third set, we'll see you at the @CentennialConf Championship! Fords sweep Swarthmore to book a date with top-seeded Hopkins tomorrow at 1 p.m. #GoHCFords pic.twitter.com/pGsVmrnDq6— Haverford College Athletics (@HCFords_Sports) November 6, 2021