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Lord ’15 champions comeback in final weekend

The Bears’ comeback win against Penn was followed by a disheartening loss to Princeton

The Bears finished their fall season last weekend with a pair of Ivy matches , beating Penn and falling to Princeton.

Bruno (12-13, 8-6 Ivy) conquered the Quakers (14-11, 8-6) Friday in a match riddled with drama and suspense — the Bears faced a quick 2-0 set deficit only to come back to take the match 3-2.

Excellent play from Maddie Lord ’15 ­­­­— who had the match-high double-double of 16 kills and 13 digs — helped the Bears edge past Penn. Besides Lord, six other Brown competitors reached double digits in digs, assists or kills.

Bruno controlled most of the first set, leading 15-14 when four unfortunate attack errors by Brown allowed Penn to gain momentum. The Bears battled back to a 23-22 lead, with set point in sight, before Penn answered with two kills and a service ace to seize the first set. “(Penn) is definitely a good team — they have one of the better offenses in the Ivy League,” said Sarah Lucenti ’17.

In the second, Penn established a 15-6 lead and held off the Bears for the rest of the set to win 25-17. Bruno struggled to create plays to set up their main attackers. Over half of Brown’s points resulted from Penn’s ball handling, service and attack errors.

“(Penn) having two sets on us made us realize that we really needed to pick up our effort and focus in order to win,” said Maryl Vanden Bos ’15.

At the match’s start Penn elected to take a 10-minute break between the second and third set— a right allowed to the home team. The break slowed the Quakers’ momentum and gave Brown ample time to regroup.

With the possibility of a shutout looming, Bruno had to go big or go home.

The Bears played a nearly flawless third set, recording a match high of 18 kills while limiting errors to only two shots. “We went out with confidence and played like we had nothing to lose,” Lucenti said.

Coming out of the break, Brown zoomed to a 5-0 lead, with four of the points coming from kills by Lord and Payton Smith ’17. The tides turned from the second set when Bruno marched out to a 16-5 lead and finished the set, limiting Penn to only 16 points. Brown’s relentless and successful attacks resulted in a .444 hitting percentage, the team’s highest percentage in any single set all Ivy season.

Bruno continued to keep the pressure on Penn to close out the match, grinding their way to another 5-0 lead in the fourth set. Penn made a strong effort to reverse the Bears’ momentum but ultimately fell behind, with Alexandra Reickoff ’14 hitting the set-winning kill to end the game 25-22.

Bruno pushed out to an 8-5 lead in the fifth. But Penn did not give up and came back to tie the score 10-10. These efforts proved futile, as a kill by Lord clinched the match in style, leading the Bears to win the fifth 15-13.

Bruno’s four-match Ivy League winning streak was broken later in the weekend with a shutout by Princeton (10-14, 6-8).

“They were playing really well and it was their senior night so they were definitely fired up,” Lucenti said.

The Bears’ offense was shaky, with no players reaching double-digit kills. Lord led the team with the team high of nine kills. While Brown’s offense seemed off, the defense yielded three players with double-digit digs, including Lucenti, who finished the night with a double-double of 20 assists and 14 digs.

Brown had more errors and fewer kills than Princeton, which did not bode well for Bruno.

Although Brown’s hitting percentage was significantly lower than its foe’s, the sets were surprisingly close. The Bears’ best chance at winning a set came in the second when they were trailing 23-22, but a couple of tough shots by Princeton allowed the Tigers to edge out the set.

It was “a bittersweet way to end, but we had a really great season and we haven’t had one in a really long time,” Lucenti said.

Brown finishes the Ivy season tied for third with Penn. This is the team’s best result since 2005, when Bruno also placed third.

“What helped us a lot this year was we had a lot of upperclassmen with good experience that culminated in a strong presence,” Vanden Bos said.


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