Despite strong performances by many individual players, the women’s volleyball team suffered a major setback in its hunt for the Ivy League championship this weekend, dropping both of this weekend’s away matchups.
The Tigers (6-9 overall, 2-3 Ivy League) went to Brown on Friday, where they managed to come back after dropping the first game to win the next two, but eventually lost 3-2. On Saturday, the Tigers faced Yale. Though the Bulldogs (11-3, 5-0) came in undefeated in the Ivy League, Princeton came out strong and took the first game, making the Tigers one of two teams to take even a single game from Yale in league play since November 2012 — Penn is the only other team to do so.
The Bears (7-9, 3-2) were on their way to an easy victory, nearly dealing the Tigers a fatal blow when, up 2-1 in the fourth set, they went up 23-19. Refusing to cede the match, sophomore right side Kendall Peterkin had a pair of kills as the Tigers battled back to knot the set at 24-24. Freshman outside hitter Cara Mattaliano then gave Princeton the set 26-24 to force a fifth.
Mattaliano nearlysaved the day and gave Princeton the win in the final set, when Brown earned a match ball but she tied it at 14 with a kill. The Bears succeeded on their third and final attempt to close the match, however, winning 3-2.
The Tigers gave Yale a tough time as well, though the Bulldogs were undefeated in Ivy play and had swept all but one of their league opponents. Princeton jumped out to an early lead, winning the first set 25-21.
“We really stepped up our level of play during that game 'cause they’re really just a well-oiled machine, they work together very well, great offensive and defensive tools,” junior middle blocker Tiana Woolridge said. “We really stepped up to the plate and proved that we can take on anyone, and beat anyone. The first game really showed that.”
The defending Ivy League champions rallied quickly, however, winning the next set comfortably and holding the Tigers to 16, 14 and 15 in the next three sets to take the match.
Mattaliano had three kills, and Woolridge added two in a match which she said proved her squad’s future will be bright.
“The biggest thing for both games was the fact that we came out so strong at the beginning,” Woolridge said. “The first game for each of the two matches was so strong, we did everything right, were pushing the other team back on their toes. I don’t think either Yale or Brown expected us to come out with that much fire and that much energy.”
With this experience under its belt and an uphill battle for the Ivy title ahead, Princeton gets to come home to Dillon Gymnasium next weekend with a Friday match against Dartmouth and a match against Harvard on Saturday. These will be the Tigers’ first home games since the victory against Penn (8-8, 2-3) that opened their Ivy League play.