PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Cornell (7-13, 3-7 Ivy) and Columbia (5-14, 3-7 Ivy) are due to arrive at the Pizzitola Sports Center for Brown volleyball's last Ivy League regular season home series which puts the Bears in position to fight for their best overall win total since 2008. With a record of 9-12 overall and 5-5 in Ancient Eight play, Brown has already matched its best win total in three seasons, and victories over the Big Red on Friday at 7 p.m. and the Lions on Saturday at 5 p.m. would leave Brown just one win shy of the 12-win mark the squad posted over five years ago.
With four Ivy League matches remaining, the Bears have a chance to exceed five league wins for the first time since 2005 (12-13 overall, 9-5 Ivy), a season that saw Brown finish in third place in the conference. The Bears could potentially match or beat that finish if second-place Harvard (7-3 Ivy) and third-place Penn (6-4 Ivy) suffer several defeats accompanied by four Brown wins to close out the year.
Brown will celebrate Senior Day prior to Saturday's match and will honor seniors Thea Derrough (La Jolla, Calif.), Amanda Nickel (Corona Del Mar, Calif.) and Alexandra Rieckhoff (Laguna Beach, Calif.) during pregame ceremonies.
Video of all home contests and all Ivy League games, home and away, will be broadcast live on BrownBears.TV. Fans can subscribe and view games by purchasing yearly, monthly, weekly or daily packages.
CONNER NAMED CAPITAL ONE ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT®
Junior libero Kathryn Conner (Newport Beach, Calif.) was named to the 2013-14 Capital One Academic All-District® Volleyball First Team as voted upon by the College Sports Information Directors of America, it was announced on Thursday. Conner, an economics concentrator with a 3.85 grade point average, becomes the first Bears volleyball player to collect All-District® honors since Brianna Williamson '11 and moves on to the Capital One Academic All-America® Team ballot.
A 2012 All-Ivy honoree, Conner leads the team and ranks fifth in the Ivy League with 3.59 digs per set. Last year, she patrolled the back row for 4.99 digs per set, which stands third all-time in program history for a single season, and registered 30 digs against Dartmouth on Oct. 6, 2012, which set a league-high for a three-set performance.
The Capital One Academic All-District® Teams recognize the nation's top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom, as only student-athletes who maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.50 and are significant contributors to their team's success are eligible for nomination. All-America® honorees will be selected later this month.
SCOUTING THE BIG RED
Nickel ripped 13 kills to help Brown defeat Cornell 3-1 earlier this season, and in order to top the Big Red again, the Bears will have to overcome the firm defense of libero Natasha Rowland and middle blocker Rachel D'Epagnier. Rowland tops the Ivy and ranks 24th in the nation with 5.11 digs per set, while D'Epagnier's 1.15 blocks per set leads all Ivy Leaguers.
Breanna Wong paces the Cornell attack with 3.21 kills per set, which stands fourth in the Ancient Eight. The sophomore went for a match-high 17 kills against the Bears back in October and Conner will work with top blockers freshman Payton Smith (Atherton, Calif.) (0.95 blocks per set) and junior Taylor Bantle (Pacific Palisades, Calif.) (0.68 blocks per set) to subdue the Big Red offense.
SCOUTING THE LIONS
On Saturday, the Bears will look to avenge a 3-0 shutout against Columbia in the team's first meeting of the season on Oct. 19. Once again, a tale of strong defense spelled a setback for the Bears, who saw several of their top attack options blanked by Molly Winger's 19 digs and 14 total blocks by the Lions. Columbia boasts the second-best blocking corps in the league and Winger averages 3.4 digs per set for the sixth-highest mark in the Ivy.
The Lions' consistent defense has allowed Bailey Springer to swing for the league's best kill mark at 3.51 kills per set. Brown held Springer to 10 kills during this season's showdown, her fourth-lowest total of the season, but the Bears will have to cool the surging outside hitter's streak as Springer has posted five straight matches with double digit kills and is averaging 3.79 kills per set since the teams last met.
LAST TIME OUT
Derrough and junior Maddie Lord (La Jolla, Calif.) each crushed 14 kills to snap a two-match losing streak and propel the Bears to an Ivy League victory at Dartmouth in straight sets last Saturday.
Sophomore Shannon Frost (Santa Ana, Calif.) matched a career high with 10 kills and hustled for 13 digs to complete the double-double, while Conner recorded a match-best 14 digs. Freshman Sarah Lucenti (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) handed out 24 assists and junior Maryl Vanden Bos (Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.) provided 22 helpers as the Bears posted a hitting percentage of .279 for their best mark in six matches.
Brown wraps up the regular season with a southern swing at Penn on Friday at 7 p.m. and Princeton on Saturday at 5 p.m. The Bears topped the Tigers in five sets at home earlier this season before surrendering to the Quakers in three the following day.