The Big Green's women's volleyball team saw its nine-match winning streak and its Ivy League success come to a halt this weekend as it dropped matches at Princeton (10-3, Ivy 2-1) and Penn (6-7, Ivy 3-0).
Dartmouth proved unable to return to the success of its early season, as it only claimed one game over the course of the weekend, as the Big Green dropped to 9-5 overall, with a 2-2 record in the Ivy League.
Friday night's loss to Princeton (30-23, 30-20, 30-28) was the first blemish on the Big Green's Ivy League record.
The Tigers held Dartmouth's leading hitters, Jess Thomas '09, Katie Hirsch '08 and Sarah Nadler '06 to a fraction of their season averages.
The teams exchanged side-outs until 19-19, when Princeton pulled away with their aggressive serving, exploiting a weak serve-receive game by the Big Green.
This momentum carried the Tigers through the second game as they coasted to a 30-20 victory, holding Dartmouth to a -.024 hitting percentage.
The Big Green rallied in the third game, but fell short as the Tigers aced a serve to win their first Ivy League match, taking the third and final game 30-28.
"Something was different," said Thomas, coming off her second Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors, "we didn't come out with intensity; a big part of our team is playing with spirit. We can play with Princeton if we play with intensity."
Dartmouth will get another shot at Princeton in Hanover on October 29.
The Big Green's inconsistent play continued on Saturday in Philadelphia. Dartmouth claimed the first game over Penn 30-26 behind a strong offense that tallied 21 kills and only four errors.
But once again, sub-par serve- receive and unreliable defense proved to be the Big Green's downfall. After winning the first game, Dartmouth saw the Quakers rally to take the second game 30-18.
Penn's success continued in game three, winning 30-20 and limiting the Big Green's attack percentage to an unimpressive mark of -.093 percent.
Dartmouth seemed to have rediscovered its rhythm in the fourth game, but could not overcome the consistent play of the Quakers, as Penn won the game 32-30, taking the match three games to one.
Thomas noted the team's clear disappointment surrounding the losses, but added, "I think it's going to make us work harder in practice. We've been working hard, but now we know what we're working towards. Practices are going to get tougher.
Obviously we wish we had won those matches, but in a way, the losses can be a good thing."
As the season unfolds and conference play continues, this game could have major implications in Dartmouth's quest for an Ivy League title. The loss drops the Big Green into fifth in the standings behind both of its weekend opponents.
Princeton's win puts the Tigers over the .500 mark in matches against the rest of the conference and they are now tied with Yale for third at 2-1 in Ancient Eight play. Penn's victory tied the Quakers with Cornell for first place sporting a 3-0 record against their Ivy opponents.
The team continues its road-swing next weekend, heading to Providence, R.I., for a Friday night match at Brown at 7 p.m., followed by a contest in New Haven, Conn., against Yale on Saturday at 4 p.m.