Women's Volleyball: Rudnick, seniors end careers with road defeats
With the Ivy League title already out of reach, the women’s volleyball team played the final two games of its 2012 season last weekend, losing in four sets apiece to Cornell and Columbia. The Tigers (12-12 overall, 9-5 Ivy League) and the Lions (14-9, 9-5) share second place behind Ivy League champion Yale.
After winning their past 11 contests over the Big Red (9-16, 5-9), the Tigers were down two sets and on the verge of being swept before rallying to salvage the third set. However, Cornell regrouped and dominated the fourth set, taking the victory, 25-19, 25-22, 23-25, 25-17. It was the Big Red’s first win over Princeton since Nov. 11, 2006. The following day, the Tigers closed out their season with a loss to the Lions in four sets, 25-22, 25-21, 22-25, 25-17.
“We were out to win the Ivy League this year, but we kind of lost focus and did not play to our potential during the important games when we needed to most,” senior outside hitter Lydia Rudnick said. “It is always disappointing to come so close to winning, but second place isn’t too bad.”
While this weekend was a disappointment for the girls in spandex, some of the younger Tigers showcased the bright future of the program. Sophomore outside hitter Sarah Hanna recorded 20 kills over the weekend and scored the second-most points for Princeton behind Rudnick. Junior setter Ginny Willis had 33 assists against Cornell and added 44 more against Columbia. Willis ended the season atop the Ivy League standings with 10.63 assists per set.
Freshman libero Sarah Daschbach had a team-high 15 digs in the match against the Lions, and fellow freshman right side hitter Kendall Peterkin finished the year third in the league with 3.16 kills per set.
“I think the team will continue to be strong competitors in the Ivy League,” Rudnick said. “And I hope that they will be able to do something that I wasn’t able to do in my four years at Princeton: win the Ivy League championship and go to NCAAs. It has been too long since Princeton has won and I think that they will definitely do it in future years.”
This weekend marked the end of the road for the three senior captains: Rudnick, right side hitter Jennifer Palmquist and setter Molly Bagshaw, all of whom contributed greatly to the program on and off the court in their four years.
“I have been so blessed to have had the opportunity to play for Princeton,” Palmquist said. “I think it is easy to take it for granted, but it really is such an amazing gift to be able to play the sport I love at this level. Now that the season is over, I am really excited to be able to invest more time in my relationships here at Princeton. I am surrounded by such a wonderful group of people here and want to cherish every moment I have with them before we all venture out into the ‘real world.’ Princeton volleyball has provided a family for me on campus, and I am so thankful that, though the season may be over, the friendships I have formed on the team transcend the confines of the gym.”
Rudnick capped off a tremendous career with strong final performances, leading the Tigers with 12 kills and 16 digs in the match against Cornell before recording 23 kills and 13 digs in the final match of her collegiate career. She finished the season atop the Ivy League in kills per set with 4.25 and in points per set with 4.77 and will likely be a first-team All-Ivy selection for the third year in a row.
In her four years as a Tiger, Rudnick recorded 1,454 kills, which is the fifth-best mark in Ivy League history, and her single match record of 34 kills puts her at a tie for second in the Ivy League record books.
“It hasn’t quite hit me yet that my career is over and I am done playing for the Tigers,” Rudnick said. “It may hit me when in a couple weeks my body is healed and I will be wanting to go back in to Dillon to play some volleyball ... I will always be an athlete at heart, and that won’t change.”