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This FridayandSaturday, Princeton women’s volleyball (5-5 overall, 0-1 Ivy League) will face off against Dartmouth (3-5, 1-0) and Harvard (4-6, 0-1) in search of its first conference win. After a tough loss to rival University of Pennsylvania (7-6, 1-0) in the Ivy Conference opener, the Tigers will be looking to improve their standings with two away games.

Motivated by a close loss to the Quakers, the Tigers are confident the next two games will provide the perfect opportunity to rebound. “I think the fact that we lost that game is actually good for us because it allows us to take a step back and realize what we did wrong or what we can work on,” senior right side hitter Kendall Peterkin stated. “We are already 0-1, I think the only way to go up is from here.”

Princeton will start its road trip at Harvard’s Malkin Athletic Centeron Friday. Last season, the Orange and Black lost both encounters with the Crimson, who went on to claim the conference title with Yale. Harvard would later lose the tiebreaker to the Bulldogs. Princeton will then travel to Dartmouth for its second game in two days. The Tigers handily defeated Dartmouth in three sets during their last encounter. Nevertheless, the Big Green will present a sizable challenge for the Tigers on their home court.

“I think we all know that these are really big games, Harvard and Dartmouth are two really big teams in the league,” junior outside hitter Cara Mattaliano said. “We are just focusing in practice, doing a lot of scouting and getting our mindsets ready to go in confident and beat these two teams in their own gym, which is always a little more difficult, but definitely more satisfying.”

The Tigers have made heavy preparations for the Ivy League Conference, changing to a 6-2 formation starting this season. The new system will allow Princeton to draw more from its bench players and integrate the whole team into a cohesive unit. Furthermore, the Princeton squad also benefits from several new additions, which will help the team build its rhythm in the coming games.

“We have three or four people we can set it to each time so it really gets the blockers spread and confused at times,” Mattaliano said. “It’s nice to know that every single hitter that we have [can be] trusted entirely to put the ball away and do their job.”

Still though, Princeton is looking to make some final adjustments before their matches against two Ivy League rivals. “I think we need to be more aggressive,” Peterkin states. “And being a little bit smarter with our hits, another thing we talked about in practice was having a purpose when hitting — don’t just hit to put the ball away, focus on a specific spot. We should be able to know which spots are open on the court.”

Under the leadership of head coach Sabrina King '01, Princeton women’s volleyball has maintained a tradition of excellence. The Tigers placed second in the Ivy Conference twice in the last five years. This past year, the Tigers placed third overall in the Ivy League Conference with a record of 9-5, coming behind Harvard and Yale, who has won the conference for five consecutive years.

Despite Yale’s dominance, the Tigers are optimistic that they can grab the conference title this season. “They are a very good team, but if there is any year to pull out a win I think this is the year we are pulling for it,” Peterkin said. “There are a lot of good teams, but I think we fit right there with them and it’s definitely going to be an interesting time, since anyone can win it.”

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