Volleyball comes up empty in weekend homestand

by Nate Niparko | 11/1/05 6:00am

The Dartmouth volleyball team ended its homestand with disappointment this weekend. The four-match stretch began last weekend with a strong showing, taking a game against league-leading Cornell and sweeping Columbia to put the Big Green in position to make progress in the Ivy League standings. However, the team failed to capitalize on the opportunity to bolster its Ivy League marks as it lost two winnable matches in front of a home crowd in Hanover this weekend to Penn (8-12, Ivy 5-4) and Princeton (14-6, Ivy 5-4).

The first of Dartmouth's losses came at the hands of the Quakers on Friday evening. After Penn closed out the first game 30-17, the Big Green began to find holes in the Quaker's blocking formations and stepped up its own defensive efforts. Dartmouth notched only nine kills as a team in game one, but improved these stats to 16 in game two and 14 in game three. Penn spiked 19 sets to the floor with only two errors in game one, but as the Big Green defense began to unveil the hitting tendencies of its opponent, the Quaker's offensive output was adversely affected. Dartmouth stunted Penn's output to 17 kills and 16 kills, while its faults increased to five errors and six errors in games two and three, respectively.

Ultimately, the Big Green defense fell short. Miscommunication when handling hits, roll shots and tips, as well as sloppy serve receive in crucial situations led to Dartmouth's demise. Games two and three were more competitive than the first, with the Big Green dropping both games by the score 30-28.

Jess Thomas '09 posted a strong showing offensively, leading all Dartmouth hitters with 12 kills. Middle blocker Nadine Parris '06 did not post standout numbers but had an intangible impact in game two, as she blocked the first hit she faced after entering the game, ending Penn's rally and starting a streak of points for the Big Green. In the end it was the play of the Quaker's setter Linda Zhang, who created offensive opportunities by running down passes that were well beyond the range of what is expected of a setter.

Saturday's loss to Princeton was structured differently than Friday's match. The Big Green took control of the match, claiming the first game 30-28. Dartmouth limited the Tigers' hitting efficiency ([kills-errors] / attempts) to an impressive .127 percent, while boosting its hitting numbers to .188 percent. Princeton bounced back in game two, winning the game by a more considerable margin, 30-25. Games three and four were toss-ups, but the Big Green experienced a few unlucky bounces and dropped the two games by the slimmest possible margin, 31-29 and 30-28 respectively.

The two losses drop Dartmouth to 10-10 overall, with a 3-7 record in Ivy League play. Penn and Princeton both improved to 5-4 in the Ivy League after their weekends' efforts. The Big Green's 3-7 standing holds them in seventh place in the Ancient Eight. Dartmouth lost no ground behind Columbia (3-6) who also lost both matches on their weekend, and hold a three game lead over winless Harvard (0-10).

The Big Green returns to action on Friday evening with a match at Columbia at 7 p.m. It will play another match in New York on Saturday as it faces Ivy League powerhouse Cornell in Ithaca at 4 p.m. Dartmouth will wrap up its regular season at home with matches against Yale on Nov. 11 and Brown on Nov. 12.

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