By Joe Curry, Contributing Writer
Gettysburg had two tough matches to close out the Centennial Conference championship, but their season is not over quite yet.
The Bullets faced off against Franklin & Marshall (F&M) on Friday in the semifinals and went up against nationally ranked Johns Hopkins in the championship on Sunday. Gettysburg was able to defeat the Diplomats in a tight back-and-forth match to secure a spot in the final. However, the Bullets were unsuccessful in toppling the Blue Jays, ranked 10th in the AVCA Division III coaches poll, who won in three straight sets.
In Friday’s semifinal game, Gettysburg was up early with a win in a dramatic first set. The first set saw the lead change four times before the Bullets extended their lead to four points. While F&M came close to tying it again as the set came to a close, a pair of aces by Callie Pidoriano ʼ24 brought Gettysburg to set point. A couple of errors on F&M’s part closed out the set, and Gettysburg took it with a score of 25-19.
The next two sets saw F&M take the lead. After a similar back-and-forth start, the Diplomats took a significant six-point lead early in the second set. While Gettysburg attempted to keep it close, F&M ultimately closed out the set with a score of 25-17 to tie the match. In the third set, Gettysburg started strong with a 12-9 lead until the Diplomats were able to overtake the Bullets by scoring eight points in a row and another three consecutive aces to win the set 25-20.
The Bullets were able to rally and win the final two sets of the match. They started strong again in the fourth with a lead of 11-6 until the Diplomats tied it up at 11-11. Gettysburg was able to hold off F&M to win the fourth set with a score of 25-20. The thrilling final set had both teams keep it close throughout. Gettysburg came out on top 15-10 to take the set and the match.
Two days later, Gettysburg headed to Baltimore to take on Johns Hopkins in the Conference Championship game, where the winner received an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship tournament.
After taking a two-point lead early in the first set, the Bullets were met with six points in a row from the Blue Jays that put them at a deficit they were unable to overcome. Johns Hopkins won the first set 25-18.
In the second set, Gettysburg kept it close, but Hopkins pulled through at the end with a score of 25-20. This was repeated in the third and final set, where the Bullets held the Blue Jays to two points or less for the entire set until the match was decided at 25-23 in favor of Johns Hopkins.
However, the loss is not the end for Gettysburg. Despite their loss in the championship game, Gettysburg received a bid to play in the regional round of the Division III NCAA tournament with the potential to advance further.
Gettysburg will face off against Cortland this weekend at MIT in Boston in the first round of the NCAA tournament.