Vollebyall will travel to Ivy Tourney
Big doesn't begin to describe the importance of this weekend's Ivy League Tournament for the women's volleyball team. In a league where the regular season is only a primer for the Tournament, the time is now, and the team is looking to capitalize.
After departing Hanover for Cornell yesterday afternoon, the Big Green (18-8, 4-3 Ivy) will open up play in the three day, dual-elimination tournament today, facing Harvard (14-15, 4-3 Ivy) at 1:00 p.m. today.
The team comes into the match having won its last two matches, but a win over Harvard would be a huge mental lift for the Big Green. Harvard and second seed Yale are the only remaining Ivy teams that Dartmouth has never beaten.
The opening round match against the fourth seeded Crimson is Dartmouth's chance to prove that Harvard's three-game victory over the Big Green earlier this season was just one bad day for the Green.
"We played so poorly," setter Felicity Kolp '99 said. "We couldn't block, play defense, or hit well."
The loss in their Ivy league opener is continual source of frustration, and now after a six week wait, the chance for revenge is presented before them.
"The Harvard match was the lowest point in our season, without a doubt," Coach Ann Marie Larese said. Larese also added that the players had used the loss as a motivating factor in the string of four consecutive Ivy wins that followed.
Carmen Schmitt '97 said, "We played extremely poorly against Harvard in October. They didn't do anything special. We have yet to show them our strength, but we are out to prove to ourselves that we are a better team than they are."
Not only has Larese modified her starting six since the Harvard loss, but the team is playing with an improved attitude.
"We can look to our teammates and see pride and confidence now." Janna Merryfield '00 said. "I'm not sure if that was true when we played Harvard the first time."
Though their league records may be the same, Dartmouth has the upper hand against a recent common competitor. Two weeks ago, Harvard lost to Northeastern, which Dartmouth defeated in four games just 10 days ago.
In that match, Alison McKinley '99 had a season high 27 kills for the Big Green, while Anne Murray '00 contributed with a huge all-around effort, ringing up 13 kills, 18 digs, five assists and three blocks. Murray's performance landed her on this week's Ivy League Honor Roll.
The Big Green and Crimson look to be an even matchup from a technical standpoint. Both play a similar offenses and defenses, but in the last few weeks, Dartmouth has added six new plays to their offense.
"We have added a lot more options and worked on the ones we already had, and there is now more variety and speed in our offense," Kolp said.
The Big Green defense is also peaking at just the right time, "We're playing the best defense that we've played all year," Larese said.
The match and overall tournament won't be decided by mere statistics and past performances, however. Matches can swing rapidly based only on just one play that gets a team fired up.
"Physical ability is so even that the difference is going to come in confidence and attitude," Kolp said.
Schmitt said, "The tournament is about what team has come to play for three days in a row. We can't save anything hoping to do better the following game."
In other first round matchups, third seed Brown plays sixth seed Penn; top seed Princeton faces number eight seed Columbia, and second seed Yale goes up against seventh Cornell.
The players reinforce the fact that all that matters is the performance for these three days, and that whatever team gets hot will take the championship home with them.
"All of the teams in the tournament have been played extremely well at some point in their season, and have the ability to do so again this weekend," Kolp said.
Merryfield summed up the significance of the weekend. "No one wants to end the season on a negative note, and for us that might mean winning the Ivy Championships or it might just mean playing the best we've played all season regardless of the result."