Cairo ’18 powers Bruno to comeback victory

Veteran libero reflects on time at Brown, Senior Day win over Crimson, final matches

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, November 9, 2017

Cairo ’18 tallied 24 digs and four service aces as the volleyball team defeated Harvard 3-2 Saturday night.

In the final home match of her Brown career, volleyball team captain Melissa Cairo ’18 recorded match-highs with 24 digs and four service aces as the Bears defeated Harvard for the first time since 2014. After dropping the opening set 25-18, Bruno answered with a 25-20 victory in the second frame. A 25-12 decision in the third stanza gave Harvard the edge, but the Bears held the Crimson off in a 25-23 fourth-frame win to force a suspenseful fifth set. Following three lead changes and six ties, Bruno claimed four of the match’s final six points to complete the comeback.

The victory over the Crimson could not have come at a better time, as Bruno celebrated Senior Day and snapped a six-match losing streak. The 3-2 triumph also marked the fifth time Cairo has notched 20 or more digs in a match this season, earning her Brown Athletics Student-Athlete of the Week honors.

For her leadership on the court and willingness to dig deep for every point, Cairo has been selected as The Herald’s Athlete of the Week.

Herald: How did you get into volleyball?

Cairo: I started playing volleyball when I was eight. My older sister was playing, and they started allowing girls to play around that time. I was really into basketball competitively, and our basketball team also played as a volleyball team, which worked out great. Through there, I started playing club and through my school.

Congratulations on the win over Harvard. How did that feel?

It felt so good! For the seniors to have our last game be a win on our home court was huge. Also, the season hasn’t gone as great as we’d hoped in terms of our record, so it was nice to end with a big win.

What were you thinking going into the fifth set?

I was thinking that I was happy it went to five because it was more opportunity to play on our home court for our last time. We all felt pretty confident because it was just a big win in the fourth, and we kind of came back from a big deficit. We were all in a really good head space.

What did the victory mean to the seniors?

It meant a lot. It was honestly awesome because the three played the whole game together. I think all the seniors did really well. The whole team was just so supportive because for us all to play some people were sitting out, so it was just fantastic for the seniors to succeed in the end.

As your volleyball career at Brown comes to a close, what has been your most memorable moment?

My most memorable moments come off the court with the team. I love playing volleyball, and it’s been so great. But our team is so close, so it would be the moments off the court.

What will you miss most?

I’ll miss volleyball a lot. It’s been the biggest part of my life for the majority of my life, but I’m going to miss this team so much, especially this year’s team. Our freshman class came in and was such a great group, and we’re all truly so close.

How does this win affect the team’s mentality going into the final two matches of the season?

It definitely gives us the confidence that we can compete with any team in the league … and (gives) us that extra push to end the season on a high note with some wins.

Do you have any superstitions or pre-game rituals?

As a team, something we’ve been doing this season is we wear red ribbons in our hair every game for our coach and her family for ALS awareness.

The Bears will take the court for their final two matches of the season this weekend, facing off against Columbia Friday and Cornell Saturday.

— This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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