With a 20-14 lead in the third set at Harvard, it looked like the women’s volleyball team was poised to take a commanding 2-1 lead. But suddenly the Crimson, led by outside hitter Taylor Docter and setter Hannah Schmidt, fought back to shock Princeton (6-7 overall, 3-0 Ivy League) and win the set.
“We just let our foot off the gas at the end of the set,” head coach Sabrina King ’01 said. “Harvard is a streaky team, so when they caught fire, it made going into the fourth set a major challenge.”
The fourth set was indeed a battle, as the two teams traded points back and forth until Harvard (4-10, 1-2), down 21-20 after a questionable call went the Tigers’ way, called a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, the visitors reached back for some extra firepower, as senior outside hitter Lydia Rudnick had three kills to wrestle the set from the Crimson.
“We wanted to make sure we went to five [sets],” Rudnick said. “We are confident that if we go to five that we are going to win.” They did exactly that, winning the fifth set decisively to close out a 25-23, 22-25, 24-26, 25-21, 15-8 victory over Harvard.
“Our fifth was the best individual game we have had all season,” Rudnick said. She and freshman opposite Kendall Peterkin, who finished with a match-high 27 kills, led the offensive attack, as Princeton jumped to an 8-2 lead in the fifth set and never looked back in what King said was “as close to perfect as we will ever play for 15 points.”
The Tigers rounded out their weekend with a 3-0 victory over Dartmouth (2-11, 1-2) on Saturday, keeping the team undefeated in league play and tied with Yale atop the conference. The Big Green, which had defeated Harvard the previous week, had bested Princeton when the teams met in Hanover, N.H., last season.
“There is a caginess that Dartmouth has, so you know they can catch fire. It was really important that we remained aggressive until we had won three sets,” King said.
While Rudnick led the team in kills with 12, sophomore middle blocker Tiana Woolridge, who had an error-free day and recorded eight kills, boasted one of her best matches of the season. The game closed a stellar weekend for Woolridge, who came off the bench against Harvard to provide a much-needed spark in the second set.
King said she is very comfortable mixing and matching her lineups, cycling in different players throughout the course of the game more often than many other coaches. “To have so much confidence in your bench is a great asset for a coach,” she said. Against Harvard, players like Woolridge and junior opposite Chelsea Parker contributed in crunch time after not playing in the opening set.
Princeton’s three-game road trip, which began last weekend at Penn, puts the team in position to take control of the league, with seven of their final 11 matches at home in Dillon Gymnasium. After playing 12 of its first 13 matches on the road, Rudnick said the team is “very excited to play for a home crowd.”
The Tigers’ surging momentum will carry them into Friday night’s 7 p.m. match against Columbia and another match against Cornell the following day, when they will look to remain undefeated in Ivy League play.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/10/02/31340/