Dartmouth volleyball goes 0-2 on the road, dropping matches to Penn and Princeton
The Big Green will have another shot at both teams on their home court later this month.
The Dartmouth women’s volleyball team (8-4, 0-3 Ivy League) lost two conference games this weekend on the road. On Friday night, an Ivy League-leading Princeton University team beat the Big Green in straight sets (10-25, 22-25, 16-25). On Saturday, Dartmouth came up short in a highly competitive five-set game against the University of Pennsylvania (25-17, 22-25, 17-25, 25-16, 13-15).
Makenzie Arent ’23 continued her excellent season with 15 assists against Princeton, and followed it up on Saturday with her sixth double-double of the season against Penn with a season-high 40 assists and 21 digs. Nicole Liddle ’22 also posted season highs against Penn with 20 kills and 21 points.
Emma Engstrom ’25 highlighted the team’s ability to respond to adversity, noting that the games this weekend showed that this team does not give up.
“Our team has a lot of grit and a lot of resilience,” Engstrom said. “We fight really hard even when we’re losing … I think that shows how much potential we have because we do fight really hard.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team is still trying to gain experience with many new players. Head coach Gilad Doron said he emphasized to the team’s young roster the importance of learning from these losses and using them to improve in the future.
“The main component is for players to try to get better, gain from these tough losses the experience that they need to make better choices next time and grow,” Doron said. “There [are] no shortcuts sometimes when you’re young. You have to pay some of these dues and learn from this, and hopefully that will drive you to be a little bit better next time when you’re in the same situation and make better decisions.”
On Friday night against Princeton, the Big Green came out slowly and struggled to compete in the first set, losing 25-10. They rebounded in the second set and even had an 11-8 lead after an 8-1 run with kills by Ellie Blain ’24, Bomi Ogunlari ’24, Liddle and Francesca Meldrum ’22, but eventually lost the set 25-22. They went on to lose the third set to the Tigers.
Because of the Big Green’s close second set with Princeton, Engstrom said that the team feels they can win any conference game.
“We learn with every match that we can compete with and beat any team in the Ivy League,” Engstrom said. “[Princeton is] a good team, but so are we.”
Saturday night was a tightly contested game to the last point. Dartmouth came out strong — something Doron emphasized before the game – quickly taking an 8-1 lead, helping lead them to a 25-17 first set win. The second set stayed tight with 11 ties and neither team able to pull away, but Doron pointed to four service errors as the reason Penn ultimately took the second set 25-22. The Quakers then won the third set with ease, while Dartmouth dominated the fourth, leading to a deciding fifth set.
Despite a quick 6-1 lead after a few Penn errors and aces by Arent and Blain, Penn clawed their way back into the fifth set to even the score at nine. Dartmouth responded by taking the next two points, but soon found themselves down 13-11, ultimately losing 15-13.
Although Dartmouth lost, Arent said that the effort of the team to come back against Penn shows the team’s high potential.
“We have the heart that we need to be successful,” Arent said. “It was our first spark of what we really need to get the ball rolling, and I’m confident that next weekend we’ll take that with us again.”
Big Green has the toughest stretch of their schedule coming up as they continue their road trip with games at Brown University (10-3, 3-0 Ivy League) and Yale University (9-3, 2-1 Ivy League).
Doron said that the team will use these games to continue to build experience, which they hope to use to help to finish their season on a strong note at home.
“We’re going to have to just get better, and — regardless of the scores of next weekend — know that we’re going to have three of the last four weekends at home,” Doron said. “Hopefully we can use some of this experience, use the crowd and come up and get some wins at home.”