Volleyball splits pair of Ivy League games in Leede Arena
After winning its Ivy League opener at Harvard University (6-7, 2-1 Ivy) last Friday, the women’s volleyball team split its pair of home games this weekend. Dartmouth (5-7, 2-1 Ivy) kicked off the weekend with a straight-sets loss against the University of Pennsylvania (8-7, 2-1 Ivy), but bounced back with a 3-1 win in its next match against Princeton University (5-7, 0-3 Ivy). The Big Green now sits in a four-way tie for second place among the Ancient Eight.
The volleyball team had a frustrating beginning to the first set of Friday’s game against Penn. After a slow start and a pair of attack errors each from Emily Astarita ’17 and Allison Brady ’16, Dartmouth found itself in an early 7-0 hole. A sloppy period of play by Penn allowed Dartmouth to work its way back into the set as the Big Green scored its first four points on a service error, a bad set and two attack errors. Dartmouth’s first kill — a strike by Astarita — did not come until the Quakers had scored 11 points.
Down 15-8, the Big Green went on a 10-3 run and tied the set at 18 points apiece. The aggressive comeback, however, was book-ended by another 7-0 Quakers run, sparked by a kill from Penn sophomore Michelle Pereira. Dartmouth’s first set of the weekend ended just the way that it started, and Penn took the set 25-18.
The second set opened neck-and-neck until the score was tied 10-10. From that point forward, Dartmouth’s offensive rhythm fell apart, and the Big Green failed to score consecutive points for the remainder of the set. The Quakers capitalized on the Big Green’s miscues and ended on a 15-7 run, scoring eight points during that run on Dartmouth attack errors.
The third and final set of the game shared a very similar theme with the first as the Big Green found themselves in a quick 0-3 hole and saw the set slip away. Up 4-1, Penn senior Jasmine DeSilva led the Quakers on a 13-6 run on the back of her six kills over this period. The Quakers ultimately took the third set 25-12, giving the Big Green its first loss in Ivy League play.
Over the course of three sets, Dartmouth only held a lead over the Quakers once, an ephemeral 9-8 edge in the second set. The Big Green had an attack percentage of -.061, registering 22 kills while committing 28 errors.
“Everything that could go wrong for us went wrong,” head coach Erin Lindsey said. “We really struggled to execute in almost every part of the game. Penn is a really disciplined defensive team, and they were really making it hard for us to score.”
Despite being dealt its first three-set loss since Sept. 5, the women managed to bounce back a day later against Princeton. It took a little time for the Big Green to get into its rhythm as the Tigers started off the first set 4-0. Much like the night before, the Big Green did not lead once in the opening set, ultimately losing 25-20.
After losing four consecutive sets on the weekend, Dartmouth entered the second set of its match against the Tigers looking like an entirely different team. With the score tied 4-4, Astarita registered a kill to give the Big Green its first lead of the match. Shortly after falling back 9-6, Dartmouth proceeded to take a two-point lead in the set at 12-10, a margin that both teams were unable to exceed for the rest of the game. The game went into sudden death after Princeton junior Cara Mattaliano scored a kill for a 25-25 tie, but a service error and attack error by the Tigers gave the resilient Big Green its first set of the weekend for a score of 27-25.
After squeaking out the tight second set, Dartmouth carried its renewed momentum to the beginning of the third set and opened with a 5-0 lead. The Big Green took its hot start and extended its lead to 14-6. Princeton fought back, at one moment cutting its deficit to three, but was unable to complete its comeback. With Dartmouth leading 20-14, Brady registered a kill that sparked a 5-0 run to close the game and give Dartmouth the 2-1 lead.
With the end in sight, the Big Green dominated the fourth set, and with the score tied at 4-4, it went on an 8-2 run and did not relinquish its lead for the rest of the set. Dartmouth led 21-12 at one point in the final set and ended the match with a kill by Paige Caridi ’16 and a Tigers attack error. Dartmouth earned its second Ivy League victory with a final set score of 25-17.
“We came out today more aggressive and willing to take harder swing, and we were also more focused on our responsibilities,” Astarita said. “Each player [was] more focused on the gameplay and what we were supposed to be doing on the court.”
Astarita was one dig away from a double-double and added a team-high 13 kills. Dartmouth totaled a .185 attack percentage, compared to Princeton’s .087, and Caridi logged a double-double with 12 kills and 12 digs. Kaira Lujan ’16 registered 10 kills of her own.
“Our back row was being really gritty on defense and getting everything up, and it really made it a lot easier to run our offense,” Lujan said. “We were able to open up the outside, putting them up one on one to get some huge swings and great kills.”
After Saturday’s win, Dartmouth is tied with Brown University, Harvard and Penn for second place with a record of 2-1. Yale University — the only undefeated team in the Ivy League with a record of 3-0 — will come to Leede Arena to face Dartmouth on Friday at 5 p.m. The following day, Dartmouth will face Brown University at 5 p.m.