For the second consecutive season, the Swarthmore College volleyball team (27-5) concluded its season by winning the Eastern Conference Athletic Conference championship tournament thanks with a 3-0 rout of Emerson College on Sunday, Nov. 13.
Sarah Wallace '18 was named the Tournament MVP and surpassed the 1,000-dig mark late in the championship match. The outside hitter from San Francisco, Calif. is the 11th player in program history to achieve the milestone and the fifth to reach 1,000 in both kills and digs.
Libero Sarah Girard '19 of Woodbine, Md. also earned a place on the All-Tournament team and has 988 career digs after two seasons.
It was the first year that the ECAC expanded the tournament to a 16-team field by combining its four different member regions.
"This was best volleyball season in school history because our team was committed from day one. We worked every day on our chemistry and communication, pushing each other to be better every day," says head coach Harleigh Chwastyk. "The challenge of being on the brink of a conference championship one week ago and to lose in the 5th set and find the emotional, mental, and physical capacity to refocus our goals on winning this tournament this weekend - not many teams are able to do that. I am so proud of our resilience and determination."
Swarthmore dropped only one set in its four ECAC matches; the Garnet fought off a spirited NYU squad in the semifinal and prevailed 3-1 after conceding the first set.
In the final against the Emerson Lions, the defending champs wasted little time, dispatching their foes by a 25-12, 25-12, 25-19 count. Olivia Leventhal '18, a neuroscience special major from Venice, Calif. had nine kills and no errors for a .474 hitting percentage as Wallace and Bridget Scott '18, a biology and educational studies major from Wallingford, Pa., each chipped in six. Girard led all players with 11 digs and tallied three service aces.
Earlier in the day, the Garnet nearly went down two sets against the NYU Violets before ultimately prevailing 23-25, 30-28, 25-11, 25-14. Wallace had 19 kills in the match and Mehra den Braven '20 of Santa Clara, Calif. was close behind with 15. Malia Scott '18, an engineering major from Lake Oswego, Ore. and Elise Cummings '19 of Glen Mills, Pa. had 26 and 20 assists, respectively, while Girard delivered a career-high six aces.
After falling narrowly in the first frame, Swarthmore battled NYU and held a 24-21 lead before the Violets clawed their way back, earning a set point of their own in the process. Swarthmore saved that one and two others, playing NYU to a 28-28 stalemate. A kill by Wallace and an attack error gave the Garnet a well-earned tie at one apiece.
They rode that momentum to quick wins in the third and fourth sets to advance to the finals. Girard had all of her aces in the final two frames as Wallace buried seven kills and Leventhal put down six with no errors. In the third set alone, Swarthmore hit .519 and limited their opponents to a .087 mark.
Amanda Reed '17, a chemistry and economics major from Scarsdale, N.Y. and Christina Shincovich '17, a neuroscience special major from Alexandria, Va., graduate as the most successful senior class in program history with 90 wins to their name. Swarthmore is slated to return its entire starting lineup for the 2017 season.