Unable to stifle the momentum of either of its opponents, the volleyball team could not defeat conference foes Harvard and Dartmouth over the weekend in the squad’s first road Ivy doubleheader.
Bruno (8-8, 2-3 Ivy) entered the weekend coming off of a pair of impressive wins at home. The team had just swept both Columbia and Cornell and was looking to display the same determined energy in this weekend’s matchups.
“We knew Harvard and Dartmouth were going to be tough competition,” said Emma Thygesen ’17. “We were coming in ready to go and really wanting to beat them.”
The Crimson (8-7, 4-1) presented the team’s first challenge of the weekend. Leading the Ivy League and coming in 21st in the nation for blocks per set, Harvard posed an incredible threat at the net. At the outset of the contest, the Bears managed to hold their own against their opponent, as the two teams went point-for-point for the opening minutes. The Crimson then went on a 15-8 run to extend its narrow advantage and claim the opening set.
Not to be bested so easily, Bruno battled in the next two sets to take the lead from Harvard. Proceeding nearly identically, both the second and third frames were trying sets for the Bears. After maintaining a comfortable lead for the majority of each set, Bruno was twice overtaken by a Crimson surge that gave Harvard an opportunity to win with set point.
“In those moments, it’s really important to come together and slow down the game and just remember that it is just another point,” Thygesen said. “Playing with intensity but also positivity is so important, especially in those closer games.”
In a display of resilience, the Bears rallied off three consecutive points both times to win the second and third sets.
Harvard then managed to claim the fourth set to send the match into an extra set. Building off its momentum, the Crimson took an early lead that it would not relinquish despite a late rally from the Bears, handing Bruno its first conference loss in two weeks.
The following evening, the Bears took on Dartmouth (7-7, 4-1). After Bruno took an 18-11 lead in the first set, the Big Green battled back into the game to even the score at 21. The teams posted 16 more points and saw six set points in the opening stanza before Dartmouth was finally able to get the necessary two-point edge to claim the first frame, 30-28.
The squad’s extensive efforts in the first set — and in the match the day before — may have fatigued it, as the Big Green went on to notch 25-17 and 25-18 victories in the following sets to sweep the Bears.
While Bruno went winless over the weekend, Thygesen said the games were a testament to the significance of the Bears’ deep roster.
“This weekend was a good show of our depth as a team,” she said. “So many people contributed in a lot of positive ways. I think that that’s definitely something that should be applauded.”
Against Harvard, Payton Smith ’17 and Sabrina Stillwell ’19 each posted 13 kills. On the defensive end, Shannon Frost ’16 and Melissa Cairo ’18 each recorded double-digit digs for the 12th and 14th time this season, respectively. Thygesen led the Bears against Dartmouth with 10 kills.
Next, the Bears will take a break from conference competition with a contest Wednesday against the University of Rhode Island. The contest marks the first in a four-match stretch at home for Bruno.
“We didn’t come out ready to go, especially against Dartmouth,” Thygesen said. “That being said, we are coming back hungrier than ever for some wins.”
“The team did a good job this weekend, but we definitely saw some areas we could improve in,” she said. “We’re going to make those improvements and we’ll be ready for them the next time. That’s the thing about the Ivy League: There’s always a next time. And the next time is going to be in our home gym.”