Volleyball defeats Cornell 3-2, falls to Columbia 1-3

by David Eads | 10/10/10 10:00pm

The women's volleyball team went 1-1 at home this weekend, claiming an exciting 3-2 victory over Cornell University on Friday night before losing to Columbia University 1-3 on Saturday afternoon.

Dartmouth (12-3, 3-1 Ivy) moved to second place behind Princeton University (8-6, 3-0 Ivy) in the Ivy League and surpassed last season's win total, with 10 games still left to play.

The Big Green began the weekend double-header with a comeback against Cornell Friday night, rallying behind fan support to defeat the Big Red in five games. Cornell dominated the first two games, winning 25-13 and 25-20.

"I would describe the first two games of our match as an extended warm-up," head coach Ann Marie Larese said. "We sputtered. We didn't have enough energy to get it going. When we came into the third game, we had to look at it as if it were a whole new match, and forget about the first two games."

The Big Green has rarely played from behind this season and became frantic after the first two games, according to captain Jessie Hartman '11. Dartmouth won the next three games, 25-17, 25-23 and 15-12, respectively.

"Our goal from the beginning of the season has always been to start the game with a lead," Hartman said. "That didn't happen tonight. It rattled us a bit. But I think being able to come back says a lot about our team's desire to win, and hopefully will carry over into our game tomorrow."

Madeline Baird '12 led the team with 16 kills and 27 digs, with Annie Villanueva '12 and Meghan Cooney '14 taking control in the deciding fifth game.

"Meghan and Annie controlled the right side of the court in the fifth game," Larese said. "They capitalized on every single one of Cornell's mistakes. It took us two hours to get to that point, but they made the most of the opportunity when it arrived."

Following Friday night's victory, Dartmouth took on a formidable opponent in Columbia (10-4, 2-2 Ivy) Saturday afternoon.

The Big Green had a similar slow start, dropping the first two games 25-20 and 25-20. Dartmouth was able to take the third game by a score of 25-22, with a strong performance from Kelsey Johnson '11, who had 19 kills on the day.

Unlike Cornell, however, Columbia continued to play well in the fourth game, winning by a score of 25-23 and handing the Big Green their first Ivy League loss on the season. Columbia was led by sophomore Megan Gaughn's 26 kills and 15 digs.

"We came out really slow this weekend," Hartman said. "Not only in both matches, but also in each of the individual games. The usual energy and passion that we play with just wasn't there this weekend."

The team sees Saturday's loss as an opportunity to improve, according to Larese.

"I think this is a moment where we figure out what is working and not working as a team," Larese said. "This is a time where we strengthen our strengths, and work on our weaknesses. It doesn't really do much in terms of the standings, but we have to focus on what we can learn from it, and move on."

Hartman said the team needs to leave the loss behind and regain their edge in preparation for next weekend.

"It's just one game," she said. "In the Ivy League season, especially this early, so many crazy things happen. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day. We have to take it one match at a time, and not get ahead of ourselves."

Dartmouth will look to regain its edge next weekend on the road against the University of Pennsylvania (6-9, 2-1 Ivy) Friday evening and against Princeton (8-6, 3-0 Ivy) Saturday afternoon.

Villanueva and Baird are members of The Dartmouth staff.