BALTIMORE – The Tufts University volleyball team stunned host Johns Hopkins University in four sets today to win the NCAA Regional Championship and advance to the "Elite 8" for the third time in program history.
The Jumbos (21-5) handed the Blue Jays (31-1) their first defeat since 2018. Hopkins had won the NCAA Championship while finishing 35-0 in 2019, and were the #1 ranked team in the nation this fall with a 31-0 record entering today's match.
Tufts will travel to St. Louis later this week to play in the national quarterfinals. The Jumbos will face the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in their Elite 8 match on Thursday at 4:00 pm ET.
Head coach Cora Thompson's Jumbos are in the Elite 8 for the third time, including 2009 and 2016.
Junior Jennelle Yarwood led the Jumbos with 12 kills today and added seven service aces and 10 digs. Senior Cate Desler finished with 11 kills and 12 digs, while sophomore Maddie Yu added 22 assists and 11 digs. Junior Stephanie Lee recorded 18 digs and senior Jennifer Ryan totaled six blocks (two solo). Grace Legris had eight kills without an error and four blocks. Five Jumbos posted eight or more kills.
Desler was selected as the NCAA Regional MVP while Lee and Yarwood also earned spots on the All-Tournament team.
Tufts won the first set 25-22 to grab a lead. The score was tied 15-15 when a 4-0 Tufts run gave them a 19-15 advantage. Yarwood had two aces and kill. Hopkins closed to 19-18, but Tufts ran off five in a row with a kill, a block assist and a solo block for Ryan included. A kill by sophomore Rileigh Farragher won the set.
The Brown & Blue got out to a 9-3 lead in the second set and were up 15-12 when they started a 10-2 stretch that closed out a 25-14 victory for a 2-0 lead. Lee served three aces during the run as Tufts would finish the match with 14 overall.
JHU averted the shutout with a 25-19 third-set victory. The Blue Jays broke away from an early 3-3 tie to lead 13-6, a streak that included three kills from Elayna Williams. The Jumbos didn't get any closer than four points the rest of the way.
Tufts was able to cut off the Blue Jays' momentum though, building a 13-6 lead in the fourth set. They pushed that to 18-7 on another ace by Yarwood and the upset was brewing. Hopkins couldn't get any closer than eight points and the Jumbos clinched the match with a block by Legris.
Simone Bliss had a match-high 16 kills to lead Johns Hopkins, the only Blue Jay in double digits. Natalie Aston finished with 36 assists in the four matches along with three aces and 15 digs, which tied for the team-high with Sarah Khan. Lauren Anthony totaled four blocks (two solo).
The Jumbos, who are also receiving votes in the most recent national poll, recorded their second win over a top-three nationally ranked team this year. They earned a five-set victory at home against #3 Trinity (Texas) on October 9.
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