Women's volleyball closes season against Yale, Brown

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

The Dartmouth volleyball team will wrap up its season this weekend with matches against Yale (18-3, Ivy 9-2) and Brown (7-4, Ivy 10-12). The matches will be played in Hanover, marking a homecoming for the squad, which has only played six of its 22 matches at home thus far this season.

The level of success that the team has achieved this year can be seen in very different lights. The women in green earned an early-season regional ranking after beginning their season with nine wins in 12 matches. Since then, they have played below the standard they had set for themselves, winning only two out of their next 10 matches. A sense of disappointment would certainly be understandable.

Yet perhaps more importantly, the team has made tremendous progress with regards to the past and future of the Dartmouth volleyball program. The team currently boasts an 11-11 overall record, and a win in either of the weekend's matches will give the Big Green a .500 winning percentage for the season. The program has not earned a .500 final record since its season in 1999.

Also, the team has won four Ivy League matches so far. A win this weekend would mark the third time in head coach Ann Marie Larese's 12-year tenure at Dartmouth that the team has won five regular season Ivy League matches.

To prepare for the weekend's matches, the team has altered the focus of its practices. The Big Green will try to stop Yale's offensive scheme in which they send their middle hitter on a slide attack to the weak side of the court, and they will emphasize finding one-on-one match-ups on the outside to circumvent the imposing middle-blockers of Brown and Yale.

Both matches provide opportunities to avenge earlier losses, as the team dropped its initial meetings with Brown and Yale. The loss to Brown came after a grueling five-set match, ultimately decided by two points. The match against Yale was played the following day. Setter Katie Hirsch '08 attributed the loss to Yale to a hangover from the loss to Brown.

"We played poorly against Yale because of the heartbreaker the night before," Hirsch said. "That was hard to bounce back from. We feel more confident this weekend."

The team looks to avenge its narrow loss to Brown on Friday at 7 p.m. and play the role of spoiler when it faces Yale, whose Ivy League title hopes are still alive, at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

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