This weekend, women’s volleyball (14–8 overall, 11–3 Ivy League) concluded their regular season games with two victories against Dartmouth and Harvard. Throughout their stellar season, the Tigers maintained their silver status in the Ivy League and will be entering next weekend’s Ivy League Championship Tournament as the second seed behind Yale (19–3, 14–0).
The Tigers’ Friday night take down of the Big Green
The Tigers’ matchup against Dartmouth (9–14, 6–8) was an exhilarating one, showcasing some of the best defense Princeton has played the entire season. The Tigers played catch-up for the majority of the initial stages of the first set, finally reaching level terms with the Big Green at 10–10. In the next phase of this set, first-year and senior outside hitters, Kamryn Chaney and Maya Satchell, respectively, exemplified consistency in landing their hits and rendered the Big Green defense ineffective. An audacious tip by sophomore middle blocker Lucia Scalamandre concluded the set at 25–16 in Princeton’s favor.
The second set unfolded in a similar fashion. At a disastrous 9–13 deficit, the Tigers decided to call a timeout. Led by Chaney, the Tigers clawed their way back up the scoreboard after the timeout, with monstrous kills, tips, and defense pulling the Tigers within striking distance of the Big Green.
Dartmouth placed a spike that caused the Tigers’ second ball to fly towards the team’s seats; however, first-year outside hitter Erin McNair dove into the chairs and saved the point. The point ended in a cheeky tip, and the Jungle crowd on their feet. Once Princeton caught up at 21–21, the Big Green were denied any points for the remainder of the set, culminating in a 25–21 second set victory for Princeton.
Dartmouth gained energy in the subsequent set, denying Princeton the chance to close out the match in three. The set was incredibly close, with the teams maintaining a tied score for the majority of the set. The game fell into a high-quality back-and-forth of consistent spikes and even more consistent blocks. Chaney and junior middle blocker and rightside hitter Haislip contributed along the way with persistent hits and blocks, ensuring that the Big Green did not gain a significant lead. Alas, the set fell to Dartmouth 25–23.
Princeton received their first point of the fourth set after a tip showdown at the net. The rest of the set consisted of a persistent ping-pong game of tied scores. Chaney truly showed that she was the star of this match with a combination of clean blocks and spikes, and by launching a career-high of 25 kills throughout the game.
After a timeout by the Tigers, McNair executed a miraculous dig in order to feed Satchell a hit to end the point and gain the lead 19–18. Chaney created the opportunity to end the match with a kill at 24–22, and the Tigers took it.
Dartmouth’s defeat was a magnificent one.
Saturday's sweet Senior Night victory over Harvard
Saturday afternoon marked the commencement of yet another thrilling Princeton match-up, this time with Harvard (15–8, 8–6). As it was Princeton Women’s Volleyball Senior Night, Dillon Gymnasium was adorned with orange and black streamers and balloons, and posters honoring three seniors: Satchell, middle blocker Julia Cabri, and right-side hitter Kathleen Bishop at the final home game of their Princeton careers.
Princeton started off strong with a first set victory. The Tigers' reflexes and receiving remained elite and consistent despite Harvard’s strategic dumps and tips. Harvard ended up losing the set 25–22 on a service error.
During the second set, Princeton briefly held on with a 7–6 lead, but Harvard soon swept the set away. The Tigers made a service error and consecutive attack errors, leading to the Tigers trailing 12–15. At this point, despite Princeton’s efforts to stay in the game by consistently setting up hitters for kills, the Crimson blocking game was top notch. Satchell managed a kill, but the Princeton defense eventually broke down. The second set concluded at 16-25.
An ace from first-year libero Sydney Bold solidified a strong start to the third set at 5–1. The first portion consisted of consistent rallying and strategic tipping on both sides of the net. First-year setter Sydney Draper served up an ace to put the score at 13–11, and Chaney followed up with a kill.
By now it was clear that the Tigers had toppled the Crimson wall. At this point, with a tilted assist, Satchell managed a stunning hit across the court, and Harvard's fate was written. The Tigers successfully concluded the set 25–22, effectively taking the lead in the match, with a brilliant kill down-the-line from Haislip.
Princeton gained a decisive 5–0 lead at the beginning of the fourth set, but Harvard did not go down without a fight. Despite their deficit being extended to 19–14 by Princeton, Harvard came back at 20–20, raising questions of a deciding set. Haislip sent a kill down the middle at Harvard’s set point, providing the Tigers with the opportunity to close out the match at a nerve-wracking, close score of 26–24. Satchell recorded a career-high 19 kills at her final home game, as Princeton’s three seniors concluded their careers with happy memories of Dillon Gym.
The Tigers will be moving into the Ivy League tournament with intensity. Last year, Princeton faced a disappointing semifinal exit to Brown.
“We have a young team and so I think it’s super awesome to go to the championships, show them what it’s like,” said Satchell after the Dartmouth game about the team’s upcoming Ivy league Championship campaign. “We didn’t really have the result we wanted to have last year, and I think really going in, feeling really gritty, knowing that there are some great teams in the tournament, and just like this last game we’re just going to have to work hard. Every team wants to beat us, it’s always good to play a hard team and play good volleyball.”
This year, Princeton plows into the Ivy Tournament having defeated every team besides Yale in their most recent showdowns. Princeton will be facing third-seeded Brown in New Haven, Conn. in the semifinal round on Friday, Nov. 17 at 4 p.m.
Josefina Gurevich is a contributor to the Sports section of the ‘Prince.’
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