Tartan volleyball sweeps home tournament with four wins

Senior Jackie Gibbons and junior Heather Holton jump for the ball in their match against John Carroll University. (credit: Joanne Zulinski/) Senior Jackie Gibbons and junior Heather Holton jump for the ball in their match against John Carroll University. (credit: Joanne Zulinski/)

The Carnegie Mellon women’s volleyball team took the court in Skibo Gymnasium this weekend to compete in the Carnegie Mellon DoubleTree Invitational. The hosting Tartans dominated the tournament, winning all four matches. On Friday, the Tartans took down Bethany College with a score of 3–0 then moved on to defeat Randolph-Macon College 3–1 for an impressive opening day of the tournament.

In the first match against Bethany, the Tartans shut out their opponent, winning the first 25–20, the second 26–24, and the third and final set 25–13. Senior setter Emily Newton led the Tartan offense in the first match with 39 assists, along with senior middle blocker Jackie Gibbons who had 12 kills. Sophomore right setter Sarah Jurgens and junior middle blocker Eliza Donahue each finished the match with zero errors, and Jurgens secured nine kills, while Donahue earned seven of her own. Donahue, Newton, and Gibbons each had two block assists on top of their offensive performances. Senior libero and defensive specialist Molly Higgins anchored the defensive side for the Tartans with 16 digs.

The second match on Friday was not a complete shut out, but the Tartans proved themselves with a decisive 3–1 victory. Carnegie Mellon dropped the first set against Randolph-Macon College 25–21, but surged back to take the next three sets, each with a score of 25–19. The Tartans forced the Yellow Jackets to make too many mistakes and fall behind in each set. Gibbons found herself at the top of the offensive leaderboards again in the second match with 11 kills. Donahue had another strong performance with nine kills, while sophomore outside hitter Lauren Mueller contributed eight of her own. Newton had 33 assists in the second match to lead the team once again.

Carnegie Mellon’s defense had an impressive showing in this match, with Higgins leading once again with 27 digs. Mueller earned 17 digs as well. Donohue had nine block assists in this match, and junior Heather Holton had five of her own.

On Saturday, the Tartans closed the tournament with two matches against the University of Mount Union and John Carroll University and won both, 3–0 and 3–1, respectively. The four victories from this tournament put the No. 17 Tartans’ overall record at 15–2 for the season.

In the first match against Mount Union, Carnegie Mellon swept their opponent with set scores of 25–19, 25–20, and 25–14. The Tartans recorded their highest hitting percentage of the season in this match at .402 along with only six errors in the entire game. Gibbons and Newton continued their precedent of leading the offense in the match. Gibbons earned 13 kills and no errors on top of a .812 hitting percentage, while Newton had 39 assists. Jurgens showed up with another strong performance in this match with nine kills, along with Mueller who had seven.

On the defensive side, Higgins earned 14 digs for the Tartans, while Gibbons and Newton each had four block assists. Donahue had two block assists of her own, along with three solo blocks.

The final match of the tournament against John Carroll University was another convincing victory for the Tartan squad. The Tartans did drop a set, but won the match 3–1 with some of their best performances of the tournament. The Tartans won the first set 25–23 before falling in the second, 28–26. The final two sets went decisively in favor the Tartans, 25–16 and 25–18.

The offensive leaders for the Tartans put up tournament-best numbers with Newton earning 50 assists, while Gibbons recorded 19 kills, which is also a career high for her. Mueller and Holton also had impressive performances as Mueller earned 14 kills and Holton had 11.

Defensively, Higgins put 32 digs on the board to close out the tournament. First-year outside hitter and defensive specialist Kayla Yew recorded a career-best with 23 digs of her own, and Donahue had three block assists on top of two solo blocks. Gibbons also had two solo blocks and two block assists to cap the undefeated tournament for her team.

The Tartans will now move on to University Athletic Association (UAA) play, which begins next week on their home turf as they take on rival Washington University in St. Louis on Saturday, Oct. 1 at noon.