Bryn Mawr Soars Past Mighty Macs in Home Opener

Sienna Burnett smashes an attack against Immaculata in September 2018

BRYN MAWR, Pa. - The Bryn Mawr volleyball team kicked off a five-match homestand earlier Thursday night by taking on Immaculata. Playing their home-opener in front of a packed crowd inside the Class of 1958 Gymnasium, the Owls volleyballers did not disappoint, showcasing a potent offensive attack en route to a 3-1 win over the Mighty Macs. Sophomore Jocelyn Bravo posted a career-high with 13 kills and junior Sienna Burnett chipped in 11 more as the Owls knocked off the visitors. First-year setter Nicole Wood was a force in the middle of the offense, tallying 31 assists and adding 16 digs for a big double-double. Immaculata was led by Madi Curley, who led all players on the night with 14 kills.

Bryn Mawr got off to a somewhat slow start in the opening set of the night, trailing the Mighty Macs 8-3 early on. A timeout from head coach Nicole Reiley helped settled the Owls down, and three straight kills from Camille Baechler and Wood got Bryn Mawr back within two. Immaculata stayed one step ahead of the Owls, however, tacking onto their advantage until they held a 17-11 lead midway through the frame. Bryn Mawr's comeback efforts in the set really began there. The Owls won six of the next eight points, including kills from Penelope Newall and Baechler several errors from the Mighty Macs. The visitors momentarily stopped the bleeding with three straight points of their own to take a 22-17 advantage, but Bryn Mawr would not be stopped in the late stages of the opening set. A service error gave Bryn Mawr the serve, and an ace from Baechler got the Owls within three. After a Mighty Macs kill, the Owls put their foot down once and for all. Kills from Wood and captain Jess DeJoie got Bryn Mawr back within two points. An attack error from the Mighty Macs made it 23-22, and then the Owls knotted things up at 23-all on a kill from fellow captain Jessie Zong. Newall would get the next kill to give the Owls their first lead in the set at 24-23, and then DeJoie closed out the frame with yet another kill. In the end, Bryn Mawr won the final six points of the set to climb out of the hole and win the opening frame 25-23.

The second set started in a similar fashion to the first, with Immaculata taking a 4-0 lead early. Bryn Mawr got their comeback efforts started much earlier in this frame, however, and by the midway point, the set was tied at 15-15. That began a back-and-forth slugfest over the remainder of the set, with each side trying desperately to put string together several points in a row and take a lead over their opponent. Bryn Mawr was the first to pull away, as a kill from Bravo and two errors by the Mighty Macs gave the Owls a 19-17 lead. However, Immaculata gutted their way back in front, winning six of the next eight points to vault ahead 23-21. Needing another rally, the Owls put together another three-point winning streak thanks to two more Immaculata errors and a kill from Burnett. The set continued into extra points, where Immaculata had three separate looks at set point with the serve in their hands. All three times, Bryn Mawr weathered the storm, and the Owls finally battled back out in front for a chance of their own. Another kill from Bravo, playing in her first set of the night after an injury to Newall, made it 28-all, and then the Owls got in front on a kill from Burnett. Up 29-28, Wood stepped up and put a great serve in play, and although the Mighty Macs handled the serve, their attack went into the net, giving Bryn Mawr the point and the set at 30-28.

Up 2-0, Bryn Mawr looked to close out the night in the third set, but Immaculata would have none of that. The Mighty Macs came out firing in that third frame, racing out to a 10-2 advantage. The Owls worked hard to battle back and stay in contact with their opponents, but they were unable to get any closer than five or six points through the duration of the set. Bryn Mawr would win seven of the last eleven points in the frame, but even that only got them within eight, as Immaculata closed out the set with two straight kills to take a 25-17 win and force a fourth frame.

The fourth set was a back-and-forth affair early on, with neither side getting ahead by more than one or two points at a time. However, this time, the Owls would not be denied the chance to close out the win. Holding an 8-7 lead in the set, Bryn Mawr ran off six straight points to jump out to a big lead. Burnett started that rally with a kill, and then an ace by Zong and a bad set from the Mighty Macs made it 11-7 in favor of the hosts. Bravo sandwiched two kills around another ace from Zong, and just like that, Bryn Mawr stretched out to a 14-7 advantage in the set. Immaculata would chip away through the middle of the frame, ultimately getting as close as 12-16, but Bryn Mawr simply opened the gap back up. A big block from DeJoie and Wood gave the Owls a 22-14 lead. Later, Zong and Burnett notched kills, getting the Owls to match point. The Mighty Macs momentarily staved off elimination thanks to a Bryn Mawr service error, but on the next point, Wood set up one more beautiful pass and Bravo fittingly capped off the night with her 13th kill, giving Bryn Mawr a 25-19 win in the set and a 3-1 win of the match.

Statistically, tonight's contest was fairly even; both teams played to the exact same hitting percentage, .173. However, the Owls' 50 kills, their eighth-most ever in a four-set match, proved to be too much to handle for the Mighty Macs, and Bryn Mawr seemed to simply get the big points when they needed them. Alongside of Bravo, Burnett, and Wood's huge performances, Kira Ogoshi also had a big night defensively for Bryn Mawr, making 19 digs to lead the Owls in that category.

Bryn Mawr's homestand will continue this weekend with their lone home tri-match of the season. The Owls will welcome Valley Forge and Goucher to campus on Saturday for a three-team day. Bryn Mawr will face off against the Patriots at 10:00 AM in the Class of 1958 Gymnasium, and then after Valley Forge takes on Goucher, the Owls will try to close out the day with a win over the Gophers.