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The Dartmouth
June 17, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Volleyball closes out season

"Ughhh," said Janna Merryfield '00 after the women's volleyball team was eliminated from the Ivy League Tournament this weekend.

Indeed, it was a weekend of frustration for the Big Green, as the team's high hopes were dashed by a loss to Harvard on Friday, 15-12, 15-13, 6-15, 16-14, and a loss in the consolation bracket to Yale on Saturday, 15-12, 15-7, 16-14.

After a loss to the fourth-seeded Crimson earlier this season, the Big Green were looking for revenge, but a slow start hurt the team.

"Harvard came out more ready to play," Coach Ann Marie Larese said. "Their defense was on. They were passing balls on a dime."

While Harvard was firing on all cylinders, Dartmouth couldn't coordinate consistent production with its offense and defense.

"We had a hard time putting it all together," Larese said.

Alison McKinley '99 had a strong showing with 21 digs, and Emily Hallenbeck '99 led the team with 12 kills.

Larese also credit Maria Stutsman y Marquez '98 for her solid play. "Maria played extremely well."

Playing the second seed Yale on Saturday morning, the team continued to struggle.

"We wanted to put the pressure on early," Larese said of the team's 9-4 lead midway through the first game. But the team's inexperience caught up with them, and Yale came back.

The team also had a 14-13 lead in the third game, but three consecutive Yale points closed out the match.

Anne Murray '00 had a spectacular overall performance, posting 14 kills, two aces, 11 digs and three blocks.

Larese also noted the performance of setter Felicity Kolp '99, who had 37 assists. "I considered this the matchup of the two best setters in the league," she said. "Felicity played really consistently."

In just its third season as a varsity sport, the majority of the team was playing in only their first or second Ivy League tournament.

Larese believes that this lack of experience was a major factor, especially playing a team like Yale that features an older lineup.

"It was our inability to deal with the pressure that hurt us," Larese said. "We just couldn't put them away."

Despite the disappointing end to the season, the achievements of the regular season cannot be overlooked. The program made huge strides this year, with wins over Princeton, Penn and Cornell for the first time in the history of the program. The team's fifth place finish in the regular season was also the best finish ever for the team.

Also, with a contingent of six freshman and four sophomores, the future for the Big Green is bright.

"I think it's very important that, as a young team, we were able to gain a lot of experience," Kolp said.

Larese is looking forward to more matchups next year against premier teams like Minnesota and Cincinnati, which Dartmouth played earlier in the season. Those types of matchups show the Green what kind of competition lies outside of the New England region that they are confined to for the majority of their season.

The season ended on a sour note, but with such a young team, and a young program, one can't help but be impressed with the milestones attained and the goals yet to be realized.

Kolp summarized the road that lies ahead. "We have the chance to determine our future and create the kind of program we want Dartmouth volleyball to be. This season may be over, but we're not done working or dreaming."