Leilani Burke/Sun Contributor

Women's volleyball played its final home games last weekend, falling to Dartmouth but rallying to top Harvard.

November 9, 2021

Volleyball Impresses on Senior Day

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This past weekend, volleyball hoped to finish up its five-game homestand on a positive note, as if faced off against Dartmouth and Harvard at Newman Arena. The Red ultimately fell to Dartmouth, but was able to pull off a dominant sweep against Harvard.

The match against Dartmouth (14-7, 6-6 Ivy) proved to be intense and physical with both teams battling it out. However, the Red ended up losing 3-1 (25-18, 25-20, 27-29, 25-22), as Dartmouth’s lockdown defense and timely kills solidified the win for them. 

Coming off a three-game win streak, Dartmouth started off the game confident and prepared by quickly building a 7-2 lead. Despite the Red’s best efforts to regain momentum in the set, Dartmouth scored five consecutive points to retake control and never looked back, winning the set 25-18.

The Red held a slim lead for most of the second set, but key kills by the Big Green allowed it to pull ahead late. The two teams were tied at 19 apiece when Dartmouth scored four consecutive points via three kills and an attack error by the Red. Dartmouth was able to hold on and win 25-20, taking a commanding 2-0 lead of the match.

Doing its best to avoid a sweep, the Red pulled out all the stops in the thrilling third set. The Red was able to maintain a steady lead throughout most of the set, including a 14-8 lead at one point. However, the Green stormed back with three consecutive points to re-tie the score at 24 apiece. 

The Red responded to the Big Green’s growing momentum. Two timely kills by sophomore Sydney Moore and senior Jillienne Bennett, two errors by Dartmouth and a service ace by Bennett allowed the Red to win the intense back-and-forth set 29-27. 

Much like the third set, the fourth set had both teams fighting neck and neck until the very last point. Towards the end, Dartmouth led 23-22 after kills by seniors Avery Hanan and Jillienne Bennett and juniors Joanna Chang and Emma Worthington brought the Red back within a point of the Green. However, an error and a vital kill by Dartmouth sealed the win for the Big Green at 25-22.

Dartmouth’s team defense stood out throughout the match, as they recorded an impressive season-high 102 digs. 

“Their defense was really good,” Chang said. “We couldn’t put a ball down which was kinda tough. But I think [overall] we played well against them.”

In its second match against Harvard (10-11, 7-5 Ivy), the Red finished off its homestand with a dominant 3-0 win (25-22, 25-16, 25-21). In the first set, the team found itself in a 16-12 hole, but went on a five-point run to retake the lead, 17-16. The Crimson responded with three consecutive points of its own, but the Red struck back with another five consecutive points to give itself a 22-19 lead, and eventually collected the win.

The second set featured an even more dominant performance by Cornell. The score was tied at seven early in the set, but the Red scored the next four consecutive points to gain momentum and Harvard was never able to come back. Cornell came away with an easy 25-16 win. 

Both teams fought neck and neck throughout the third set, as the lead was never wider than four points throughout the entire match. The team was able to pull off a timely four-point run to take a 21-17 lead late in the set, and held on to win the clinching set 25-21.

“I think we did a lot better at working together as a team than we have this past season,” Chang said. “We played well as a unit instead of individually, which we’ve been doing [this] season,  and we had a lot of alum[ni] that came to our game too so that definitely helped.”

The seniors in particular impressed throughout the match. Jillienne Bennett, Casey Justus, Madison Baptiste and Avery Hanan recorded 25 of the team’s 35 total kills. The Red also dominated the Crimson from the serving line, tallying 11 service aces compared to Harvard’s one.

Moving forward, only two matches remain in the season for the Red, which currently sits at sixth in the Ivy League rankings.

“I hope we can play as a team again like we did this past week and just play as a whole, and have fun for the last two games, [especially] for our seniors too,” Chang said.

The team will hit the road and compete against Penn (6-15, 3-9 Ivy) on Friday and Princeton (14-6, 8-4 Ivy) on Saturday to close out its 2021 season.