Volleyball drops a pair of Ivy matches

by Nathan Niparko | 10/17/05 5:00am

The Dartmouth volleyball team (9-7, Ivy 2-4) continued to fall short of its potential this weekend, losing two matches at Brown and Yale. The Big Green, which carried a nine-match winning streak into last weekend, has now dropped four straight.

Friday night's match against the Bears (6-10, Ivy 3-2) proved to be a test of endurance. Dartmouth started strong, winning game one by a score of 30-28. Brown fought back, winning games two and three (30-27, 30-24), putting pressure on Dartmouth to win game four. The Big Green stood its ground, forcing game five with a 30-28 victory in the fourth. Nevertheless, Brown claimed the decisive game five, escaping with a 15-13 win to claim victory.

For Dartmouth, the loss comes in spite of a strong offensive performance by Katie Hirsh '08 (17 kills, 27 assists), Sarah Nadler '06 (15 kills), and Jess Thomas '09 (14 kills), as well as an unexpected burst from middle hitter Fances Samolowicz '08 (12 kills). Much of the offense was initiated by setter Elise Krieger '08 (35 assists).

The match lent Brown their second Ivy League victory, which they would supplement with a win over Ivy League cellar-dweller Harvard on Saturday to improve to 3-2 in the Ivy League.

The Big Green, however, struggled through its weekend's second match. The Yale Bulldogs (13-2, Ivy 4-1) used aggressive serving to stunt Dartmouth's receivers, paralyzing the Big Green offense. The Bulldogs held all Dartmouth hitters below double-digit kills, as four players shared the team-high six kills. The team as a whole marked 37 kills and 28 errors on 123 attempts, posting a dismal .073 hitting percentage for the match.

Yale set the tone early, winning game one in a landslide, 30-19. The game was knotted at 14-14, but Dartmouth's offense failed to turn serve receptions into points. The Bulldogs went on a 16-4 run to close out the first game. The Big Green found some composure in game two, but fell just short, as Yale prevailed 32-30. The Bulldogs then cruised to victory in game three, outscoring a deflated Dartmouth squad 30-18, holding them to a .000 hitting percentage.

"Yale put up a pretty big block, but none of our hitters were very confident in their swings," said team captain Nadler. "We were sending a lot of roll shots and tips over the net. We were tentative, and we were swinging to keep the play going instead of swinging to end the point."

Yale's offensive efforts were led by the Ivy League Player of the Week, senior setter Jacqueline Becker (39 assists). Becker's numbers were padded by the efficient play of her hitters, three of whom notched double-digit kills.

These two losses drop Dartmouth into seventh in Ivy League play. The Big Green trail sixth-place Columbia (4-11, Ivy 2-3) by a half game, and hold a safe margin over Harvard (3-13, Ivy 0-6).

However, the team remains positive, as Nadler noted, "I don't think our goals have changed. The league is so close, and there have been huge upsets. I think we need to go back to being the same team that we were before league play began -- confident and fearless. Something has changed; we need to be more aggressive. That's something we've stepped back from. We've let up on our confidence."

Dartmouth looks to bounce back this coming weekend, as they end their road swing with home matches against Cornell on Friday, October at 6 p.m. and Columbia on Saturday at 4 p.m. Both matches will be played at home in Leede Arena.

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