Volleyball goes 3-1 in tournament, moves to 6-1 on season

by Jehanna Axelrod | 9/14/14 3:44pm

The volleyball team had a successful weekend at the Jack Kaiser Tournament in Queens, New York, where it placed third out of five teams after two hard-fought wins on Saturday afternoon to earn a 3-1 tournament record. The Big Green (6-1, 0-0 Ivy) won three matches in five sets, going the distance to defeat St. John’s University, St. Francis College in Brooklyn and the University of New Hampshire. The Big Green’s lone setback of the tournament — and the season so far — came in three sets at the hands of Fresno State University.

After dropping the first set against the Red Storm 25-10, the Big Green battled back to take a close second set 25-21. With the score 20-19 Big Green, the Dartmouth women went on a four-point run to take control. St. John’s took the third, but the Big Green took the final two sets 25-22 and 17-15, respectively.

Emily Astarita ’17 added 17 kills in the game, helping her remain tied for the team lead with 74 on the season. Kayden Cook ’16 continued to run the Big Green attack, as her 48 assists in the game were a team high. The junior now has 190 for the year.

But the Big Green could not carry momentum into its second game against Fresno State. The Bulldogs dominated from start to finish — the Big Green failed to score more than 14 points in any set, something which had not occurred this season before that game.

The adversity did not seem to bother the Big Green on its second day of action, however, bouncing back to win two games in five sets against St. Francis and UNH.

In the first set, Dartmouth fell behind St. Francis after the Terriers recorded six out of seven points togo ahead17-11. The Terriers coasted to a 25-18 set win.

“A lot of times that first game is kind of an opportunity for us to get a good understanding of some of the tendencies of the team that we’re playing,” Lottie MacAulay ’17 said. “We just try to come out and play our game as strong as we can, but also try to learn as much as we can about what we’re going to be getting back on the other side of the mat.”

The loss did not appear to affect the women in the next set, however — the team came out strong and took it 25-16.

“In practice we’ve been working on a lot of games to 25, so we’re used to taking it one game at a time,” Alex Schoenberger ’15 said. “We did a really good job of not letting what happened in the game before affect us moving forward.”

The Big Green took seven of the set’s first eight points, which included three kills, all assisted by Cook.

“Kayden is really talented at making the other people on the court and her hitters feel really good about what they’re doing and really confident,” head coach Erin Lindsey said.

The teams traded points at the beginning of the third set. With the score tied 8-8, Dartmouth began to pull away thanks to two kills from MacAulay and three attack errors from St. Francis.

The Terriers clawed back after taking five of the next six points, bringing the score to 13-14, but two attack errors and two kills from Astarita gave Dartmouth a comfortable lead. The team held on to take the set 25-17.

The two teams stayed close in the fourth set, and the score was tied 21-21 after 15 kills for the Big Green, 12 of which Cook assisted. Dartmouth took the next two points thanks to a St. Francis service error and an ace from Stacey Benton ’17. The team could not manage to record another point, however, and St. Francis took the set 23-25, setting up its second five-set match of the tournament.

“We have a good amount of talent now, and we have a pretty big roster, so we’ve had really good competition in practice, which then allows whoever’s starting for us to feel comfortable performing under that kind of competitive pressure,” Lindsey said.

The Big Green came out strong, taking the first three points due to a attack error and two service aces from Cook.

“When we find ourselves in a fifth-set situation it’s really important to come out dominant really, really fast because you only go to 15,” MacAulay said.

The team did not allow St. Francis to get comfortable, as Dartmouth won the set 15-9, and with it, the game.

Paige Caridi ’16 finished the game with 17 kills and 19 digs, and Julia Lau ’17 had 29 digs.

The second game of the afternoon started poorly for the Big Green. After Dartmouth took the first two points of the first set, UNH took 12 of the next 13 points, making the score 12-3. Dartmouth could not get its footing, and dropped the set 25-13.

Team members kept their heads clear and battled into the second set. Dartmouth took the set’s first two points on aces from Cook and did not look back. UNH did not hold the lead at all during the second set, as the set ended 25-21 in favor of Dartmouth.

“We had a lot of two-a-days this preseason, so I think that conditioning-wise, we’re in a really good place,” MacAulay said.

The Big Green started the third set strongly, again taking the first two points. But the team could not hold UNH back. The Wildcats scored six consecutive points to make the score 10-6, and bested Dartmouth 25-15.

“Playing through pressure is something that, as a team, we’ve been working really hard on,” Schoenberger said. “We’re working on getting to the point in terms of trust and having each other’s back that we’re not worried about what our team is going to think if we mess it up. There’s a sense of team support, which kind of frees everyone from the pressure.”

With the game on the line, Dartmouth delivered.. The team recorded 15 kills and also profited from service and attack errors by the Wildcats. The Big Green took the set 25-20 and punched its ticket to a second fifth-setter of the day.

“We’ve been spending a lot of time on discussions about being really aggressive and playing our game really well and not worrying so much about what the outcome is going to be, but instead really focusing on executing the process,” Lindsey said. “That’s allowed us to be really successful.”

The two teams stayed close in the final set, and the score was tied 11-11 before Dartmouth took four consecutive points and with them, the match.

The Big Green was one of three teams that tied for first place in the tournament with a 3-1 record, but the tie-breaker sent them home in third.

“I’m really pleased with where we are,” Lindsey said. “We definitely still have some things that need work, but I think that the work we’ve been doing so far has been good, and the team is really coming together.”

The team hits the road again next weekend for the Seton Hall Tournament, which kicks off Friday at 5 p.m. in South Orange, New Jersey.