Volleyball Remains Relentless, Outlasts Princeton 3-2
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – For the first time in nearly seven years, the Brown volleyball team defeated Princeton, 3-2, after a fierce five set battle in Ivy League action at the Pizzitola Sports Center on Friday. Junior Maddie Lord (La Jolla, Calif.) crushed 18 kills to help the Bears win its third-straight five set decision and snap a 12-match losing streak against the Tigers, dating back to Brown's last win over their league foe on Oct. 20, 2006. Brown improves to 7-8 overall and 3-1 in Ivy League play, matching the team's win totals from last season in both categories with 10 matches left to play.
Lord pioneered a crew of four Bears with double-digit kills, including senior Thea Derrough (La Jolla, Calif.) with 14 and classmates Amanda Nickel (Corona Del Mar, Calif.) and Alexandra Rieckhoff (Laguna Beach, Calif.) with 11 kills each. Rieckhoff sealed a double-double with a match-best 20 digs, falling one dig short of tying her career-high of 21. Junior Kathryn Conner (Newport Beach, Calif.) patrolled the back row with 18 digs, while freshman Sarah Lucenti (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) also went for the double-double with 29 assists and 12 digs.
Brown leaped for 16 total blocks, led by freshman Payton Smith (Atherton, Calif.), who recorded six block assists and a solo stop to accompany eight kills. Rieckhoff aided on four blocks, while senior Taylor Bantle (Pacific Palisades, Calif.) reached high for two solo blocks and assisted on the game-winning stop in set five.
For Princeton, Cara Mattaliano attacked for a match-high 19 kills and Kendal Peterkin added 16. Lauren Miller handed out a match-best 41 assists while Peterkin paced the Tigers with 19 digs for a double-double. Peterkin maintained her reputation as the league's most aggressive attacker with 43 attempts, but Mattaliano outran her with a whopping 55 tries for a Princeton squad that hit .200 on the evening.
The Tigers looked as if they would run away with their 13th straight victory with an authoritative 25-17 win in the first set. Princeton opened up a 14-8 lead as Peterkin took to the service line and Mattaliano struck to put the visitors up 21-12 for their largest lead of the match.
Rieckhoff found her stride to help Brown tie the match with a 25-19 advantage in set two. The senior's seven kills highlighted a .406 hitting percentage as the Bears struck 32 times to keep the pressure high. The Bears surged on a 9-2 run thanks to four Rieckhoff kills, and Bantle found redemption after a blocking error by firing home the final kill to seal the six-point win.
Brown jumped in the driver's seat in the third set and used disciplined hitting and well-timed aces to win, 25-18. Princeton rallied from down 12-9 to cut the deficit to 15-14, but Lord broke a streak of three straight Tiger points with a soft and shallow shot. Sophomore Rachele Killian (Laguna Beach, Calif.) followed with a crafty drop shot to catch Princeton off guard, and immediately planted an ace to make it 18-14 and force a visitors timeout. Bantle rocketed home two of the last seven points to put Brown ahead two sets to one.
Peterkin and Mattaliano took the Tigers on their backs in set four and ground out a 26-24 win to tie the contest. Thirteen attacks from both hitters proved essential to wearing down the Brown defense late in the set as the Bears simply ran out of steam after Lord spearheaded a 6-0 run that turned a 14-11 deficit into a 17-14 lead. Mattaliano and Rieckhoff then went head-to-head in a race to the finish, but errors proved the equalizer down the stretch as a pair of Brown miscues snapped a 24-24 tie and allowed Mattaliano to drop the deciding kill.
The Tigers were first to eight in the final set, and things looked grim for Brown when the visitors stretched their lead to 11-7 on consecutive Mattaliano points. A timely Derrough kill got the ball back to the hosts, however, and sparked a rally as Lord's spike followed by an ace and kill from Rieckhoff found Brown back in the set trailing 11-10. A Bears handling error was negated by a Princeton service error, and Lord crushed a cross-court shot to knot the score at 12-12. Peterkin and Lord exchanged blows and Brown forced match point after an attack error, but Mattaliano notched her 19th kill to tie it, 14-14. Nickel found empty floor for a clutch go-ahead kill, and Bantle and Rieckhoff timed a perfect block of a Tiana Woolridge attempt to cap the dramatic victory, 16-14.
Brown looks to run its Ivy League win streak to four matches when the Bears host Penn tomorrow at 5 p.m.