Volleyball falls to second in Ivy League after three losses

by Daniel Lee | 11/3/15 6:01pm

After losing to Harvard University last week, the women’s volleyball team dropped another two matches against Princeton University (11-8, 6-4 Ivy) and the University of Pennsylvania (10-12, 4-6 Ivy) this past weekend. The second half of the season marked the end of a five-game win streak and the beginning of a three-game losing streak, during which the team has failed to win a single set. After the loss against Penn on Friday, Dartmouth (9-10, 6-4 Ivy) lost its first-place standing to Harvard, dipping down to second place in the Ivy League standings alongside Princeton and Yale University (11-8, 6-4 Ivy).

After dominating in the first half of the season, Dartmouth’s second-half struggles have demonstrated an inability to adjust to playing teams a second time. With the Ivy League title on the line, the Big Green will have to quickly return to form in hopes of regaining the top spot in the league.

“I think what we need to focus on is making the adjustments based on which team we’re playing. The three teams that we lost to played much better the second round than they did the first round,” Zoe Leonard ’19 said. “They made adjustments and knew what to expect from us. I don’t think we paid as much attention as to what we should have be doing on our side.”

Princeton opened up the first set by scoring the first three points on kills. Both teams started the game aggressively as nine out of the first 10 points scored in the game were by kills. After trailing early in the game, the Big Green tied the game at 15-all and pulled ahead 21-19. The Tigers went on a 3-0 run on a service error, service ace and attack error to take the lead. After kills by Kaira Lujan ’16 and Paige Caridi ’16 and a service error by Sierra Lyle ’19, the set was tied once again, this time at 23 apiece. Princeton registered two kills to prevent a sudden death scenario and claim the first set of the game.

The second set started with another 3-0 lead by the Tigers. This time, the Big Green was unable to keep up and found itself in a 13-4 deficit early. Dartmouth continued to trail throughout the game and a kill by Princeton junior Cara Mattaliano ended the set with a final score of 25-21.

The third set of the game was much closer and neither team had a lead of more than three points at any time. After trailing 8-5, Dartmouth went on a 9-3 run to lead 14-11, but Princeton managed to tie the game at 17-17. Both teams went on 3-0 runs to tie the game at 20-20, but an attack error and three kills by Astarita and Lujan brought the Big Green a point away from winning the set at 22-24. Dartmouth was unable to finish the game, however, as an attack error by Lujan and three consecutive kills by Princeton senior Kendall Peterkin brought the game to a sudden death scenario and a 26-25 deficit for Dartmouth. Princeton scored the final point on another kill to win the set and the game 3-0.

Astarita and Lujan registered 14 and 11 kills respectively, while Zoe Leonard ’19 dove for 13 digs and Kayden Cook ’16 dished 33 assists.

Many of Dartmouth’s failures were due to attack errors late in the sets.

“We’ve been really struggling offensively to execute the ball,” Caridi said. “It’s one of the things where the intention is right and the thought process is right, but we’re just not putting away as many balls as we should be.”

The Big Green then traveled to Philadelphia to face Penn for an opportunity to end its late-season slump. Both teams were neck-and-neck in the first set as the score was tied for the seventh time when a kill by Lujan tied the game at 11 apiece. The Quakers went on a 3-0 run, but a 3-0 run by the Big Green tied the game 22-22. A kill by Astarita and two kills and an attack error by Penn brought the game to the second straight sudden death scenario for the Big Green, but the results were no different as two attack errors gave Penn the first-set win.

The two teams exchanged runs early in the second set, knotting the score at 12-12. Penn went on a defining 6-0 run that set the momentum for the rest of the set and maintained the lead to win 25-19. The Big Green’s offensive struggles continued into the third set as six of the Quaker’s first 10 points came from service or attack errors by the Big Green. Trailing 22-18, Dartmouth committed three consecutive attack errors, giving Penn the win and extending the Big Green’s losing streak to nine sets.

Dartmouth registered a 0.038 attack percentage due to 26 attack errors and only 31 kills. Caridi recorded a double-double as the only Dartmouth player with double-digit kills, and Leonard added 19 digs.

“We’ve had some unforced errors after 20 [points] where [the game] is much tighter at that point and unforced errors can cause a huge change in momentum,” Lujan said.

In preparation for the four remaining games of the season, Dartmouth will work on the aspects of the game that they have struggled with in the past three games.

“We definitely need to show a little bit more determination to get every point we can,” Caridi said.

The final two home games of the regular season are this weekend against Columbia University (7-12, 5-5 Ivy) on Friday and Cornell University (6-14, 2-8 Ivy) on Saturday.