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When the lights went off at Dillon Gymon Saturdaynight and the last fan had long since left the building, the women of Princeton volleyball could finally exhale. After dropping their first three Ivy League matches against Penn, Harvard and Dartmouth, the Tigers (7-7, 2-3 Ivy League) regained their composure to sweep Columbia (4-10, 2-3) and Cornell (4-11, 0-5) to reinsert themselves into the Ivy League race.

While senior co-captain Kendall Peterkin led the charge as usual against Columbiaon Friday, it was team effort rather than individual performance that allowed the Tigers to beat the Lions and pick up their first Ivy win of the season in the process. After taking the first set 25-18, the Tigers stormed back from a 19-13 deficit in the second set to win it by a narrow 25-23 margin. They finished off the Lions with a 25-19 third set.

Peterkin tallied a team-high 11 kills on the night, while junior Brittany Ptak, freshman Brittany Smith (who hit .538 on the night) and junior Cara Mattaliano each recorded eight of their own. Mattaliano also added 11 digs to complement senior co-captain Sarah Daschbach’s 17 in the victory.

The following night the Tigers welcomed the Big Red to campus with another straight-set win (25-19, 25-20, 25-15). Ptak finished a stellar weekend with a team-high 12 kills while hitting a whopping .750, living up to her All-Ivy billing. Mattaliano, another standout of the weekend, added 10 kills and 12 digs. Freshman Claire Nussbaum and junior Lauren Miller set-up their teammates all night, recording 24 and 14 assists respectively.

Though the Tigers did their part to gain ground in the crowded Ivy League this weekend, they will have their work cut out for them on the next road trip.On Fridaythe Tigers will square off against Brown (8-8, 2-3), and a win would be critical to keep pace with the pack in contention for the Ivy Championship.On Saturdaythe Orange and Black will travel to New Haven, Conn. to take on the reigning Ivy Champion Yale Bulldogs (8-6, 3-2) in one of the Tigers’ most anticipated games of the season.

The upcoming weekend will conclude Princeton’s first run through the Ivy League. A disappointing result might dash the Tigers’ championship hopes, but if the team can build upon last weekend’s momentum and perform up to expectations, they could find themselves right back near the top of the league with half of the season yet to play.

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