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Princeton women's volleyball beats Harvard 3–2 in nail-biter

<h5>After helping the Princeton University women's volleyball team earn a pair of wins over the weekend, senior middle blocker Julia Schner was honored as the Ivy League Player of the Week.&nbsp;</h5>
<h6>Courtesy of GoPrincetonTigers.com</h6>
After helping the Princeton University women's volleyball team earn a pair of wins over the weekend, senior middle blocker Julia Schner was honored as the Ivy League Player of the Week. 
Courtesy of GoPrincetonTigers.com

The Princeton women’s volleyball team squared off against fellow Ivy League contender Harvard on Oct. 2 in an exciting five-set match that resulted in a Princeton victory (25–20, 24–26, 25–16, 19–25, 15–13). 

The match began relatively even, with both teams consistently making big plays and impressive saves. In a pivotal moment of the first set, junior outside hitter Elena Montgomery spiked the ball down the right side of the court, increasing the Tigers’ score to 14–13 and igniting an eight-point run for the Tigers. A kill by junior outside hitter Melina Mahood brought the set to its first set point; a subsequent attack error by Harvard’s Katie Vorhies put the Tigers up 1–0. 

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Two errors by Harvard and a kill by junior right side hitter Avery Luoma ended Harvard’s seven-point run to begin set two. A kill by junior middle blocker Olivia Schewe brought the set to 10–15, but an ace by Harvard’s Rocky Aguirre delivered the set to Harvard. 

Set three began with a kill by senior middle blocker Julia Schner, who also kickstarted a six-point Princeton run featuring kills by junior libero Cameron Dames, Mahood, and Luoma. After multiple stuff blocks by Montgomery, Princeton won the third set, giving it a 2–1 advantage. 

Harvard and Princeton started the fourth set scoring back-and-forth points. A kill by Luoma ended a Harvard run and brought the score to 10–15. Despite several kills by both Montgomery and Avery at the latter end of the set, Harvard won the set, giving each team two sets apiece. 

Both teams had great runs in set five; Harvard had a six-point run that brought their lead to 10–7, followed by a six-point run by Princeton that brought back their lead to 14–12. An attack error by Harvard ended the match, with Princeton winning the set 15–13. 

In addition, senior outside hitter Klepetka matched her career-high service aces during the match, scoring three aces, while Schner led the team with a career-high 11 blocks. 

While reflecting on the game, Head Coach Sabrina King told the ‘Prince’, “We have a lot to be proud of and also a lot to continue to work on.”

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King highlighted certain players that stepped in at pivotal moments. 

“Grace Klepetka came off the bench and steadied our passing line,” King added. “Melina Mahood also came alive in this match and we will be looking for more from her as we spread our offense.”

She also mentioned Schner, who was later named Ivy Women’s Volleyball Player of the Week.

“She showed calmness in chaos,” King said. “She continues to be a formidable blocker and attacker.”

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Despite bringing home the victory, the team thinks it has much room for improvement. 

“We want to play every match with our best effort,” King said. “Implementing our training, executing our game plan, and staying confident and aggressive throughout the course of the entire match.” 

Looking forward, the team hopes to use this match as a source of individual and team growth. 

“If we can accomplish that, then we can win an Ivy Championship,” she said.

The team will take on two Ivy League teams on the road this weekend, playing against Cornell University on Friday and Columbia on Saturday. 

Caroline Ji is a contributor to the Prince sports section. She can be reached at cj1042@princeton.edu.

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