Volleyball cruises, moves to 9-2

by Blaze Joel | 9/23/14 4:39pm

9.24.14.sports.wvolley_Jeffrey-Lee
The volleyball team dominated Bryant and did not trail after an early 4-3 deficit.
by Jeffrey Lee / Jeffrey Lee

The volleyball team dominated Tuesday night’s contest against Bryant University in three sets to move to 9-2 on the season. In a total team effort, the Big Green made the Bulldogs look lost on the court, both offensively and defensively.

Last season, Bryant defeated the Big Green in straight sets in Rhode Island.

“It means a lot,” head coach Erin Lindsey said. “I’m really proud of the team. We’ve been working really hard in the offseason and this preseason on improving and being resilient and more mentally tough than we were last year. I think that really showed tonight because we came out focused and determined.”

The Big Green had a kill-to-error ratio of 41-11 while the Bulldogs (3-15) struggled to a 26 to 22 margin.

“Our whole game we came out very competitive and aggressive and confident in ourselves,” co-captain Paige Caridi ’16 said. “We were able to predict that they were going to set their outside hitters a lot so that’s why we served aggressively.”

The teams traded points in the first set. Bryant had a 2-1 advantage when Molly Kornfeind ’17 executed a perfectly placed tip shot to give the Big Green back the serve.

The tip shot was effective all night for the home team, who kept the Bryant defenders on their toes by mixing spikes and tips.

After trading points, the Big Green found itself trailing 4-3. This was the last time the Big Green would trail the entire evening,

A four-point run put Dartmouth up 7-4. The Bulldogs responded with three of their own, then the teams traded two-point rallies to tie the score at 11.

At that point, the Big Green took over both the set and the contest, notching seven of the next eight points to take a 17-12 lead and force Bryant to burn a time out.

But Dartmouth’s momentum continued, as the team built its lead to 23-13 before the Bulldogs took their second time out of the set. The Big Green won the first set 25-14, ending the frame on a 14-3 run.

The second set was much like the first. The Big Green’s defense blocked two shots on a multi-shot rally that ended with the Dartmouth women winning the first point. The Big Green mixed tips and spikes again to extend that lead to 3-1 and 7-4.

While Bryant kept the set within striking distance, the Big Green countered every Bulldog run with one of its own to maintain a lead throughout the entire set.

“We’re determined and have a lot of grit,” Kaira Lujan ’16 said, referencing the fact that the team has gained a lot of experience playing and winning four five-set matches. “It’s something we pride ourselves on.”

The home team then blew the game open, pushing a close lead to 20-12, then 23-14 and finally 25-14.

Despite falling behind early, the Bulldogs made a game of the third set, pushing back from an 11-4 deficit to bring the score back to 16-13 and 19-17. But the Big Green was there with the counterpunch, each time embarking on multi-point runs to reestablish its control over the match.

With the Dartmouth women up 24-20, another well-executed placement shot caught the Bulldogs off their toes. The ball dropped on the second hit in the middle of the court to give the Big Green a 25-20 third-set win.

Kornfeind and Lujan tied for the team lead with eight kills, while Emily Astarita ’17, Lottie MacAulay ’17 and Caridi were not far behind with seven, seven and six, respectively.

The win pushes the team’s record to an impressive 9-2 on the early season, an accomplishment for a team that went 2-22 just two seasons ago.

“Going into our freshman year, we knew we weren’t really ready to win the Ivy Championship, but that being said, we were ready to change the culture of the team and we knew we were building the team to get there,” Caridi said. “Right now it’s all coming together nicely. All the upperclassmen are taking on leadership roles, whether we like it or not.”

The team hosts league powerhouse Harvard University Saturday at 4 p.m. in its Ivy opener.

“They’re going to be a force offensively, so we’re going to have to play very good defense,” Lindsey said. “It’s really all about our first contact, our serve receive and our passing.”