Women's volleyball beats Columbia, falls to Cornell
The Dartmouth volleyball team continued its tendency to prevail over lesser teams and falter in the shadow of stiffer competition as they swept Columbia (5-16, Ivy 3-7) in three games on Friday night and lost to Cornell (18-3, Ivy 11-0) on Saturday afternoon. The win over the Lions serves as the Big Green's second win over Columbia this season, whereas the loss to Cornell marks Dartmouth's eighth Ivy League loss, all of which have come to teams ranked above the Big Green.Dartmouth's four conference wins result from their defeats of Harvard (twice) and Columbia (twice), while they are winless against all other Ivy League opponents.
The two-faced nature of the Big Green's success is mirrored in the play of its individuals as well. Two-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week Jess Thomas '09 is averaging six and a half kills per match over her last four matches. However, her offensive production has come in spurts, as she has accomplished double-digit kills twice in Dartmouth's last four matches, compared to two one-kill efforts in the other two matches over this stretch.
Arising from the struggles of some individuals is the success of others. As the Big Green's opponents begin to focus their defensive efforts on Thomas, holes are created for other hitters. Sandy Barbut '07 is averaging eight and a half kills per match over the past four matches, a spike from her season average. Through these times of uncertainty, sophomore setters Katie Hirsh '08 and Elise Krieger '08 have maintained remarkably steady numbers, registering assists by finding the hitters with mismatches or hitters are only opposed by a single blocker.
Friday's match against Columbia played to the same result as their homecoming match against the Lions, but this time Dartmouth's success came from different sources. Sarah Nadler '06 who notched 18 kills in Dartmouth's first meeting with Columbia was held to seven in the rematch. On the other hand, Nadine Parris '08 was held to one kill in the October match-up with the Lions but marked up 11 kills in this weekend's match in New York, and Sandy Barbut upped her total from four kills in the initial meeting to 10 in this weekend's face-off.
The victory over Columbia put the Big Green one match over .500 on the season, at 11-10, although they would drop down to an even .500 mark in Ithaca on Saturday at the hands of Cornell.
The Big Red found a strategy for success against Dartmouth. Cornell's duo of Elizabeth Bishop and Joanna Weiss combined to slam thirty-five sets to the floor in the Big Red's first match-up with the Big Green, and the two added thirty-three more this weekend.
For Dartmouth, offensive production has been more sporadic. The Big Green sees most of its production from Thomas, Nadler, and Hirsch, but the trio often plays in inverse proportion to one another, rarely producing top performances in the same match. Dartmouth was able to take one game from powerhouse Cornell, but the visitors were ultimately trumped as the Big Red bounced back with a vengeance (30-21, 26-30, 30-20, 30-26).
At the conclusion of the weekend, Dartmouth sits a half-match behind Columbia, whose 4-7 Ivy League record puts them in seventh place. The Big Green are separated from fourth place by two matches. The team returns to action next weekend, with matches this coming weekend against Yale on Friday at 7 p.m. and Brown on Saturday at 4 p.m., to wrap up their regular season. Both matches will be played in Hanover at Leede Arena.