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Owls Give Garnet Strong Challenge on Tuesday Night

Nicole Wood serves during a September 2018 match

BRYN MAWR, Pa. - The Bryn Mawr volleyball team hosted Tri-Co rival Swarthmore earlier Tuesday evening in the Class of 1958 Gymnasium, and the Owls put on a very solid performance. Facing off against a team that made it to championship weekend at last year's NCAA tournament and received votes in this week's AVCA coaches poll, Bryn Mawr steadily worked their way into the match and gave Swarthmore a big challenge, particularly in a thrilling third set. Nicole Wood led the way for Bryn Mawr with nine kills and an impressive .364 hitting percentage, while Jane Rand posted a 13-assist, 13-dig double-double for the Owls. Swarthmore, who ultimately picked up a 3-0 win in the match, was led by nine kills from Emma Morgan-Bennett and 22 assists by Alyssa Nathan.

Swarthmore got out to a quick lead in the opening frame of tonight's contest, jumping ahead 7-1 in the early portion of the set. Camille Baechler ended that run with a kill, and later Sienna Burnett added a kill of her own, but Swarthmore's offense never stopped, ultimately vaulting the visitors out to a 20-5 advantage. Bryn Mawr started to come alive late in the set, with Jessie Zong tallying a kill and then Wood throwing down back-to-back kills of her own. However, the Owls were simply out of time in the frame, as Swarthmore made their big lead hold up to win the set 25-9.

The second set was a similar start, as the visitors picked up two kills in the first five points en route to a 5-0 lead. Wood got Bryn Mawr on the board with another strong kill, and then another, earning two of the Owls' first three points. Swarthmore continued to play very clean, however - the visitors made just one error in each of the first two sets - and ultimately stretched their lead out to 10-3. Wood stayed hot with another kill, and then Jess DeJoie posted a big ace to help Bryn Mawr stay in the set. Later, Sienna Burnett and Jocelyn Bravo picked up kills, then Zong and Wood as well, drawing Bryn Mawr back within 16-10. Swarthmore ran off four straight points to go up by ten, and despite two more kills from Bravo and Wood, the Garnet ultimately were able to get away with a 25-13 win in the second set.

The third set was where the Owls really came out on fire. Though Swarthmore won the first two points of the frame, Bryn Mawr responded with a three-point run of their own to take their first lead in a set on the evening. Wood ripped another kill as part of that run, and then Baechler posted a kill of her own a couple points later to put Bryn Mawr ahead 4-3. From there, the set turned into a highly charged back-and-forth affair. Swarthmore crawled ahead by one, but then a kill from Jane Rand tied things back up. Bryn Mawr played some truly terrific points, diving all over the court to keep balls alive and later force the Garnet into several key errors. That helped keep the set close in the middle portion of the frame, but then a 5-1 run put Swarthmore ahead 18-13. The two teams traded points after that, but then a big kill from Zong helped stop that run and led to a rally from the Owls. Trailing 21-15, Wood started things with another strong kill. Swarthmore answered on a bad set, but Bryn Mawr won the next five points to climb back in the set. Two errors from the Garnet made their lead just four, and then Rand and Baechler threw down two more thunderous kills around another Swarthmore error. When the dust finally settled on that run, Bryn Mawr had closed to within one point and were giving the Garnet all they could handle. Unfortunately, that would be as close as the Owls could get. Swarthmore managed to regroup, winning the final three points and closing out the match with a 25-21 win of the set.

Despite the loss, the Owls really showed some impressive grit and resolve with their play in the third frame. They'll look to carry that effort into their next matches on Saturday afternoon. Bryn Mawr will travel to Dickinson for a tri-match on Saturday, where they will take on the Red Devils at 12:00 PM and then play a non-conference contest against Lycoming at 2:00 PM.