Volleyball loses at home in straight sets to Penn, Princeton

by Joe Clyne | 9/30/12 10:00pm

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The volleyball team will return to action on Friday against Yale at Leede Arena before wrapping up a four-game homestand against Brown on Saturday.
by Tracy Wang and Tracy Wang / The Dartmouth

On Friday, the Big Green (2-11, 1-2 Ivy) fell to the Quakers (6-8, 1-2 Ivy) in three sets, 25-20, 25-15, 25-18. Penn has now won 12 straight against Dartmouth.

The Big Green had a fast start in the first set, putting the Quakers in an early five-point hole. A string of steady play from Penn, combined with some unforced errors by Dartmouth, gave the set to the Quakers by a tight margin.

"We had trouble coming back from that loss in the first set since it made us lose our composure a little bit," middle hitter Kaira Lujan '16 said.

The second set did not go Dartmouth's way, as Penn jumped out to a 14-7 lead and never looked back. The Big Green attempted to fight back behind the play of outside hitters Paige Caridi '16 and Alex Schoenberger '15, but could not close the deficit.

In the third set, Penn jumped out to an early 9-3 lead, but Dartmouth regained its composure and pulled back to within a point. The Quakers then rattled off five straight points to take the set by seven.

"We need to have better identification and focus early on in sets," Dartmouth coach Erin Lindsey said. "Feeling comfortable at the beginnings of sets is something we're still struggling with and need to work on in practice."

Setter Kayden Cook '16 (18 assists, nine digs), Caridi (nine kills, seven digs) and Schoenberger (11 kills, eight digs) were among the Big Green's top contributors in the loss. Libero Holly Harper '15 also chipped in with nine digs of her own.

"I felt like our defense was a lot better and more relentless," Caridi said. "We were really scrappy and got to a lot of balls we don't always get to."

The Quakers were led by the efforts of junior Susan Stuecheli, who had an astounding 13 kills in just 17 attempts. Freshmen Alex Caldwell and Ronnie Bither both had double-digit assists, while libero Dani Shepherd led the team in digs with 18.

On Saturday, the Big Green took on the Princeton Tigers (7-7, 3-0 Ivy), losing in straight sets, 25-18, 25-18, 25-18. Despite Dartmouth's best efforts, the final result never seemed to be in doubt.

"Princeton just has more firepower, more weapons and more options than us right now," Lindsey said. "They're in a bit of a groove."

In the second set, Dartmouth took an 8-6 lead, but Princeton quickly struck back to take a five-point advantage. Princeton's run was marked by a few mistakes by the Big Green.

"We sometimes let teams get a run on us with our unforced errors," Lujan said. "It's not just one thing, but it's a collection of mistakes."

The first set was a back-and-forth affair, as an 11-4 Princeton run at the start of the game was immediately met by an 8-1 Big Green response, led by four kills from Schoenberger. Dartmouth's rally was ultimately stymied as the Tigers took the set by a seven-point margin.

"With both of our starting middles sidelined with injuries, we have gotten a bit more predictable offensively," Lindsey said. "This helps teams prepare for us better while preventing us from opening up lanes to attack."

The third and final set turned on a controversial call against the Big Green regarding an illegal block by setter Cook. The call came as Dartmouth trailed by three while attempting to close the gap.

"The refereeing was a little inconsistent [against Princeton], but was definitely not the reason why we won or we lost," Lindsey said. "He made the right call, but it took a little while, which threw us off of our rhythm."

After the call, the Tigers rattled off a 5-1 run to put the set and match all but out of reach. Princeton took the set by a score of 25-18.

Dartmouth's stars included Schoenberger (13 kills, four digs), Caridi (nine kills, 13 digs) and Lucia Pohlman '15 (six kills, nine digs). Harper, Cook and Vivian Snider '14 all had double-digit digs, while Cook also led the team in assists with 29.

Princeton was led by the efforts of senior Lydia Rudnick (12 kills, 13 digs), sophomore Nicole Kincade (10 kills, two digs) and junior Chelsea Parker (12 digs). Sophomore setter Ginny Willis led the team in assists with 37, while freshman Sarah Daschbach led in digs with 17.

The Big Green takes the floor again at Leede Arena on Friday night, when the team will play Yale University at 7 p.m. Dartmouth concludes its four-game homestand on Saturday against Brown University.