Women's volleyball swept on the road by Ivy League foes

by Luke Mann-O'Halloran | 10/30/06 6:00am

Middle blocker Nadine Parris '06 (left), Dartmouth's only graduating senior, will play her final two matches at Leede Arena next weekend.
by Jennie Post / The Dartmouth

Dartmouth won its first game against Penn by the comfortable margin of 30-23, but the Quakers bounced back to take a late lead in the second game, going up 29-23. Dartmouth responded behind strong serving to pull within one, but Penn escaped with the win 28-30.

The women of the Big Green served well throughout the match, with 13 aces and only three service errors. By comparison, Penn served up only nine aces while committing 13 errors. Serving has been a strength for Dartmouth all season.

The third game started well for Dartmouth, as the Big Green went up by five points early and then pulled away to leads of 21-11 and 29-23. At game point, Penn made a five-point run, aided by Dartmouth hitting errors, to close within one before middle blocker Morgan Covington '10 secured the win for Dartmouth with a kill.

Strong hitting kept the Big Green close for all of the fourth game, as neither team gained much of a lead. After tying at 28, a Penn kill gave the Quakers game point, but Sandy Barbut '08 answered with a kill to tie the game back up. Unfortunately for the Dartmouth side, the Quakers responded with two kills of their own to take the game 31-29.

Inconsistency, a problem throughout the season, again plagued the Big Green in the fifth game. After going up 4-2, Dartmouth allowed Penn a four-point run, giving the Quakers a lead that they held for the remainder of the game. The Big Green stayed close, pulling within one at 8-9 before a five-point tear by Penn sealed the deal.

The five-game match took two and a half hours. Outside hitter Jess Thomas '09 looked for the silver lining in the loss, saying, "I think we played really hard against Penn. It was a really tough loss; mentally and physically. At times our serve receive was amazing; however we ultimately lacked the consistency we needed to come out with a win."

On Saturday, Dartmouth headed down to Princeton looking for a repeat of their upset of the Tigers earlier in the season. Princeton had other ideas, however, and came out strong to defeat the Big Green in three straight games. According to Thomas, "We did not come out ready to play a volleyball game."

Dartmouth's weak hitting was a key in the loss; in the first two games the Big Green committed one hitting error for every kill. Only three players finished the match with positive attack percentages.

After dropping the first two games 16-30 and 18-30, Dartmouth seemed to wake up, staying close throughout the third. The Big Green's offense also improved, with the attack percentage going from .000 in the first two games to .286, above the team's season average. This late revival was not enough for Dartmouth, which lost 28-30.

Dartmouth is now ranked 5th in the Ivy League, as the Big Green was passed by Brown and Penn over the weekend. Heading into the last four games of the season, Dartmouth is 2-2 against its remaining opponents. The women will have to run the table to finish with a record over .500 in the Ivy League.

Dartmouth returns home next weekend, when senior middle blocker Nadine Parris '06, one of the Big Green's all-time leaders in career blocks, will make her final appearances at Leede Arena in a Big Green uniform. The Big Green will look to beat Columbia (6-13, 1-9 Ivy) at 7 p.m on Friday before taking on top-ranked Cornell (14-8, 8-2 Ivy) on Saturday.