HARRISONBURG, Va. - The Bryn Mawr volleyball team kicked off their 2018 campaign earlier Friday evening with a strong performance at the Route 42 Classic in Virginia. The Owls knocked off Delaware Valley in game one of the night, picking up a victory in their season-opener by a 3-0 tally. Then, in the second, and arguably more entertaining match of the night, Bryn Mawr and Mary Baldwin faced off in a five-set donnybrook, but the Owls ultimately came up just short in a 3-2 loss. There were numerous highlights on the night for the Owls, including strong performances from many of their freshman players. Leading that group was Nicole Wood, who opened her Bryn Mawr career with a bang by posting a triple-double in the second match of the night.
In the opener, the Owls faced off against a plucky Delaware Valley squad that put up a strong battle throughout the night. Bryn Mawr got off to a strong start in the opening set, running out to a 3-1 lead thanks to a kill from Jessie Zong and a service ace from first-year setter Nicole Wood. The Aggies tied things back up at 3-3, but that would be as close as things got in the first set, as Bryn Mawr put together a 6-1 run to jump out to a big lead and not look back. Wood and fellow first-year player Jane Rand tallied three kills in that run, while Sienna Burnett chipped in another. Later on in the frame, Camille Baechler, the leading Owls attacker from 2017, got on the scoresheet with a pair of kills of her own. Ultimately, the set was never really in doubt, as Bryn Mawr posted an impressive .300 hitting percentage and match-high 13 kills en route to winning the frame 25-15.
The momentum carried into the second set for the Owls, who were even more efficient the second time around. Another kill from Zong started off the set once again, and again the Owls got out to a quick lead. This time, though, Delaware Valley battled back and even took a lead midway through the set. An Owls service error gave the Aggies a 10-7 lead in the frame, but Bryn Mawr buckled down and dug their way back into the frame. Baechler got on a run with her serve, posting an ace and seeing several Aggies errors to get the Owls back in front. The set remained close over the ensuing minutes, with both teams trading blows to stay within a point of each other. Delaware Valley once again managed to string a run of points together to take an 18-15 lead and put pressure back on Bryn Mawr, but the Owls put together a resounding response. Bryn Mawr ended the contest on a 10-1 run, winning the final six points of the set to erase their deficit. Back-to-back kills from Baechler helped spark that rally, and a pair of aces from Rand and one final kill by Wood closed the door on the frame and gave Bryn Mawr a 2-0 lead in the contest.
Bryn Mawr got the third set started in a similar fashion to the first two, with a kill and an ace from Wood and several bad sets by the Aggies contributing to a 4-1 lead for the Owls. Bryn Mawr continued to stay in front over the next several points, but the middle part of the set saw a change in momentum. Delaware Valley put together a 6-1 run, sparked by several Bryn Mawr errors and a pair of kills from the Aggies' Kayla Bracken, and that gave DelVal a 14-11 lead midway through the set. However, Bryn Mawr was not to be denied their 3-0 sweep, as the Owls once again buckled down and slowly chipped away at their deficit. Several key errors by the Aggies knotted the set back up at 16-all, and then Sienna Burnett threw down a huge kill to give the Owls back the lead. Once again, Bryn Mawr would close out the set (and the match) on a big run, winning eight of the last nine points to run away with the win. A service ace from Kira Ogoshi, a kill from Baechler, and three straight kills from first-year Penelope Newall helped the Owls take the set 25-19 and earn the 3-0 win over the Aggies.
Match two of the evening turned into a spectacular event for both the players and fans, as Bryn Mawr and Mary Baldwin faced off in what turned out to be a marathon five-set match. Bryn Mawr battled ahead to a 2-1 lead in the match after losing the opening set of the contest, but then Mary Baldwin forced a fifth set with a win of their own. In that decisive frame, both sides had plenty of great moments, with even that set needing to go to extra points. Unfortunately for the Owls, Bryn Mawr came up just a couple points short, as MBU won the final set and claimed a 3-2 win on the night.
The Owls put on a strong fight in the first set to battle back from a big early deficit, but the hole proved too deep to dig out of, as Mary Baldwin hung on to win the first frame 25-20. Bryn Mawr flipped the script in the second set, however, taking the lead just a couple of points in and never looking back. Back-to-back aces from Ogoshi and a kill from Wood helped stake the Owls to a 7-4 lead early on, and that lead only grew as Bryn Mawr took charge of the set. The freshman trio of Rand, Wood, and Newall each posted back-to-back-to-back kills at one point, and then several errors from Mary Baldwin put the set virtually out of reach. Wood closed out the frame with one last kill to help the Owls win the frame 25-17 and knot the match up at 1-1.
The third frame ended up being an even more dominant performance for the Owls, who never trailed in the set thanks to some strong serving and clean play throughout. Back-to-back service aces from Newall and a couple of attack errors from Mary Baldwin put the Owls in front 6-1. Mary Baldwin managed to battle back midway through the set to tie things up at 12-12, but Bryn Mawr cruised back out in front thanks to kills from Jocelyn Bravo and Nicole Wood, two aces from Kira Ogoshi, and numerous service errors by MBU. Ultimately, the Owls claimed a 25-20 win of the set, giving them a 2-1 lead in the match.
Mary Baldwin held strong in the fourth set, however, and a match-high ten errors from the Owls in the frame helped MBU win the frame 25-17 and force the decisive final set. In that final frame, Mary Baldwin got off to a quick start, jumping out to a 6-1 lead thanks to four kills and a couple of Owls errors. However, Bryn Mawr did not wilt under the pressure, scrapping their way back into the set by winning seven of the next nine points. Penelope Newall posted two kills in that run, and then kills from Zong and Wood tied things back up at 8-8 in the set. Mary Baldwin went back out in front 10-8, but a three-point run from the Owls gave Bryn Mawr their first lead of the set. Once again, MBU battled back in front by a point, but kills from Newall and Bravo, each on great sets from Wood, helped push Bryn Mawr back out in front. A second kill from Bravo gave the Owls a 15-14 lead in the set and put Bryn Mawr just a point away from claiming victory in the marathon match. However, it was not to be, as the final mini-rally went the way of Mary Baldwin, who won the final three points in a row to turn the tables on the Owls and claim a 17-15 win in the set and win the match 3-2.
Despite the tough loss in that second match, the Bryn Mawr performance was truly admirable throughout the evening. Wood posted a triple-double in the second match of the night, tallying 14 kills, 27 assists, and 14 digs in that contest alone. She also added six kills, 16 assists, and seven digs in match one, giving her what could be a couple of weeks worth of stats for an average player all in the span of a single night. Casandra Paiz and Kira Ogoshi also had notable performances on the night. Paiz posted 19 digs and three aces in the second match of the evening, while Ogoshi tallied 16 and 22 digs and two and four service aces in her two matches on the night. Penelope Newall posted double-digit kills in the second match, tallying ten kills in that affair, second only to Wood's 14-kill performance. Wood and Baechler led the Owls in match one with six kills apiece, with Baechler's coming with an incredibly efficient .667 attack percentage in that match.
The Owls will look to keep the positive momentum rolling into day two of the Route 42 Classic, as Bryn Mawr will face off against two more tough opponents. The Owls will play matches against Salem and Catholic tomorrow - be sure to check back here at GoBrynMawr.com for all the updates!