The women’s volleyball team is poised to make another run at the Ivy League title this season. The Tigers’ record is a bit misleading at 2-4, as it includes two heartbreaking five-game losses to Siena, each by a two-point margin. It also does not include their victory last weekend over the University of Montreal, a match that does not count for NCAA standings. Despite losing two All-Ivy selections in Cathryn Quinn and Hillary Ford, Princeton has reloaded its roster with five freshmen.
“All the freshmen came from really good clubs,” senior captain and outside hitter Lydia Rudnick said. “They are all very enthusiastic, and they bring great energy to the court when they are playing. And when they get used to playing under pressure situations, they are going to be a great asset.”
The freshmen have already contributed at different positions, making this year’s squad deeper than in past years. Freshman right side Kendall Peterkin is already making a statement to the rest of the Ivy League, as she is tied for third in kills per set — Rudnick is first at 4.22.
The Tigers went undefeated at home in Ivy play last season, including a victory over league rival Yale, the two-time defending champions, which the team cites as the most exciting match of last season. And for Rudnick, that victory was even sweeter because Maddie, her sister, is a libero for the Bulldogs.
“Obviously it was fun to play my sister and beat them,” Rudnick said. “They are also our biggest rivals, so it is always good competition.”
Dillon Gymnasium is known to have full attendance for many women’s volleyball games, including a group of loud supporters who frequently chant, “AVC! [Awesome Volleyball Chicks]” This support does not go unnoticed by the team.
“Last year we won every single home [league] match,” Rudnick said. “I think a lot of that had to do with the atmosphere with all our fans and all the people who came to cheer for us. We love having as many people as possible come. It makes the match so much more fun, and we get so excited. This year, [senior captain and setter] Molly [Bagshaw] is making tanks for the fans that say ‘Orange Crush’ and ‘Volleyfan’ on the back.”
The road to the title will be challenging, due to the depth of the league.
“Yale is the biggest competition again because they won the past two years and have not lost anyone,” Rudnick said. “But any team in the league can win at any time. We lost to Dartmouth last year. If you are not playing your best, any team can beat you. We need to stay focused throughout the entire season.”
In addition, the scheduling did not go in the Tigers’ favor, with four of their seven home Ivy matches coming during fall break, including the potentially pivotal home contest against Yale.
But their biggest fans have vowed to compensate for absences and recreate the electric atmosphere characteristic of Dillon when the girls in spandex take the court.
The Tigers head to Washington, D.C., this weekend and start their Ivy League season shortly afterward. They are confident that this year is the year they bring home the title.
“We have a great chance to win the Ivy League this year,” Rudnick said. “I am really confident in the team that we have, and I know all of us want it and won’t be satisfied with second place.”
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/09/14/31105/