Volleyball bounces back to beat Brown in season's final road match
With the season winding down, the Dartmouth women's volleyball team showed that there is still plenty of fight left in the squad as they played for pride in two weekend road matches. After falling to a tough Yale squad in three games Friday night, Dartmouth bounced back with a four-game win over Brown Saturday afternoon, snapping a three-match losing streak.
Against the Bulldogs of Yale (12-7, 7-4 Ivy), one of the stronger teams in the Ivy League, Dartmouth (6-16, 3-9) was unable to repeat its performance of two weeks ago when the Big Green outplayed Yale at home for its most impressive victory of the season.
This time, however, Yale played solidly on both offense and defense, stifling the Green throughout the match with its quick attack. In the three-game loss (20-30, 23-30, 26-30) Dartmouth managed only two blocks as Yale hitters combined for a tremendous .333 hitting percentage, its best of the season.
And while Yale's offense was spreading the ball around and firing on all cylinders, the Dartmouth offense struggled to consistently record kills against Yale's big block and quick defense.
"Yale played very well on both ends of the ball, defensively and offensively," said Dartmouth head coach Ann Marie Larese. "They attacked aggressively and quickly and our defense and blocking did not always have a chance to set up."
For the Green, outside hitter Sandy Barbut '08 was the only player to notch double digits in kills with 13 to go along with 14 digs. Setter and right side hitter Katie Hirsch '08 added seven kills and 22 assists after being named Ivy League Rookie of the Week Monday for her fantastic all-around performances against Columbia and Cornell last weekend.
Outside hitters Jana Freeman and Shannon Farrell led the Bulldogs with 16 kills and 11 digs apiece.
Two weeks ago, Dartmouth followed a loss at home to Brown with a triumph the next day against Yale. On Saturday, the opposite proved true. The Big Green bounced back with a strong team performance against Brown (7-15, 4-7), losing only the third game for a 30-20, 33-31, 20-30, 30-18 victory.
"I was extremely proud of how we played on Saturday," said Larese. "We were very composed, aggressive and smart. We took advantage of their mistakes and created our own scoring opportunities."
Many of those opportunities would not have been possible if not for the Big Green's outstanding defensive play. The team registered seven blocks and 75 digs, to frustrating the Brown offense throughout the match.
"Our defense stepped it up and we didn't let a ball drop without getting a touch on it," said outside hitter Sarah Nadler '06, who led Dartmouth with 13 kills.
While Dartmouth hit a low percentage all match, they limited their mistakes, making 17 hitting errors to 30 by Brown. According to Hirsch, the defense played a big part in the difference in errors.
"We made a lot of digs, which made it much easier for us to stay in rallies and let Brown make the mistakes," she said.
Complementing Nadler's 13 kills for the Big Green were 11 kills and 13 digs from Barbut for her second double-double of the weekend. Middle blocker Frances Samolowicz '08 added seven kills, three blocks, and a .353 hitting percentage for the match.
Leading the way for Brown was outside hitter Lauren Gibbs (16 kills), who stands fourth in the Ivy League in kills per game. Elvina Kung added a superb 35 digs for the Bears.
With the season to conclude next weekend with home matches versus Ivy powerhouses Penn and Princeton, the young Big Green team is hoping that it can gain some momentum into next season while playing the role of spoiler for a Princeton team still in the hunt for the Ivy League crown. According to the players, Saturday's match has already shown them what the team is made of.
"I think that what is so amazing about our team is that despite our record, we are not satisfied with losing," said Barbut. "We only have two matches left and plan on putting everything we have out on the court. If we were just going to roll over and give up now, we wouldn't have beaten Brown. These next two games will really define the character of our team."
The fact that the four seniors on the team are making their last appearances in the green and white uniform (Katherine Allan, Renee DeLellis, Diana Szczepanski and Katie Frett) should also drive the team next weekend.
"We want the seniors' last game to be a home victory," said Nadler.