Volleyball drops two in disappointing road weekend

by Ben Reed | 11/3/04 6:00am

After last Saturday's thrilling four-game upset over Yale, the Dartmouth women's volleyball team appeared primed to put a forgettable first half of the season behind it in its second trip through the Ivy League schedule.

During Homecoming weekend, the team took to the road in matches against the best and worst of the Ivy League. But the second trip got off to a nightmarish start for the women in green, who suffered two three-game losses and now find themselves just a game out of the Ivy cellar at 2-8.

In the team's longest road trip of the season, Dartmouth (5-15, 2-8) followed a 20-30, 21-30, 17-30 thrashing from the last-place Columbia Lions (3-19, 1-9) with a 20-30, 20-30, 28-30 loss to league powerhouse Cornell (14-6, 8-2).

"I was surprised at how we performed this weekend," said setter and right-side hitter Katie Hirsch '08. "We needed to come out on fire with a mission, and that just didn't really happen."

After defeating Columbia handily at Leede Arena three weeks ago, it hardly seemed conceivable that the Lions could turn the tables in Friday night's rematch. A solid showing by Columbia, however, and a surprisingly flat and uninspired match from the Big Green combined for a painful three-game shutout.

"In the Columbia game it felt like everything fell apart," said outside hitter Sarah Nadler '06. "We couldn't pass to the setter, we couldn't block any balls and we made tons of hitting errors."

While not a single Dartmouth player was able to crack double-digits in kills, Columbia sophomore middle blocker Nikki Learned dominated at the net throughout, registering a match-high 15 kills in 21 attempts without a single error for a remarkable .714 hitting percentage.

Dartmouth was outhit soundly in each game, posting a .148 percentage for the match to Columbia's .291. Columbia managed 54 kills to just 33 for Dartmouth, 62 digs to 51 for the Green and five blocks to Dartmouth's four.

Hirsch had a solid all-around match for Dartmouth with seven kills, a team-high 16 digs and 14 assists. Outside hitter Sandy Barbut '08 added six kills and 13 digs.

In Saturday afternoon's match against the appropriately red-hot Big Red -- who came into the match on a three-game Ivy winning streak -- the match played out somewhat more predictably. Despite a much better defensive showing, Dartmouth struggled at the net against a huge Cornell block.

Along with the 16 blocks Cornell registered, Big Red outside hitters Elizabeth Bishop and Rachel Adomat posted their usual dominant performances, combining for 29 kills.

For Dartmouth, however, hitting errors proved costly. The team missed the court 24 times in the match and were outhit .245 to .131.

Hirsch had another stellar all-around performance for the Big Green, notching her second triple-double in as many weeks with 12 kills, 22 assists and 10 digs. Nadler added a double-double with 13 digs and 10 kills, Barbut collected 22 digs and Diana Szczepanski '05 recorded 16 digs.

After a frustrating weekend for Dartmouth, the team will look to rebound next weekend with road matches against Yale and Brown. And despite the Big Green's struggles this season, the players are hoping they can learn from their losses and show that they are better than their record indicates.

"What we got this weekend was a reality check," said Nadler. "We need to see that everyone in this league is hungry to win, from the teams at the top to the team at the very bottom and we can't take anybody for granted."

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