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Blown leads haunt Bruno in 0-2 weekend against Ivy opposition

Bears unable to close out difficult sets in 3-0, 3-1 losses to Columbia, Cornell respectively

The volleyball team continued to struggle against Ivy League competition, losing tough matches to Columbia and Cornell over the weekend.

Brown (4-16, 2-8 Ivy) opened its weekend at home Friday against Columbia (11-9, 6-4 Ivy), seeking to avenge a 3-0 loss to the Lions earlier in the month. But Friday’s match would deliver a nearly identical result, with Bruno suffering another 3-0 defeat.

“The match was tough, and we definitely had opportunities to capitalize, but unfortunately we could not finish out the game,” said Payton Smith ’17. “I think that’s something we want to work on these next few weeks.”

Bruno had opportunities to challenge Columbia, which included a 13-11 lead in the first set and a 24-22 advantage in the second. But Brown stumbled with the lead, allowing the visitors to take control of the games. The team particularly struggled to prevent the Lions from going on scoring runs during the match’s decisive stages — Bruno conceded four straight points to conclude the second set, as well as five straight to finish the match in the third.

“Mentality is huge for volleyball,” Smith said. “Our losses are not because we are not physically capable but more that we have not been mentally tough in the ways we needed to be.”

Elisa Merten ’19 led the team with 15 assists and 10 digs, while Sarah Lucenti ’17 contributed 14 assists and nine digs. Brown also enjoyed solid performances from Emma Thygesen ’17 and Makena Ehlert ’20, who paced the team with 11 digs and eight kills, respectively.

Brown looked to rebound against Cornell (10-10, 4-6 Ivy) the following day. “Coming into Cornell after that loss (to Columbia) was challenging because obviously we did not have a win under our belts to fuel our confidence,” Smith said.

Brown provided stiffer competition than it had the previous night but once again suffered lapses in key moments, ultimately losing 3-1. After 10 ties and seven lead changes, Bruno grabbed a 23-20 lead in the first set before conceding five straight points to Cornell. The team once again put forth a strong early performance in the second set, keeping pace with Cornell at 15-15 before the Big Red reeled off five straight points and coasted to a 25-19 win.

Brown finally enjoyed a run of its own in the third set, rallying from a 22-17 deficit with a 9-2 run to win the stanza. Ehlert powered Bruno’s comeback, notching four of her team-high 14 kills during the set. But the team’s inability to stop its opponents’ runs would ultimately haunt it in the fourth stanza, as Cornell closed out the match on a 12-2 run to win 25-13.

Melissa Cairo ’18 gave Brown a strong performance, recording 23 digs, while Lucenti and Merten combined for 41 assists.

Brown will look to reverse its Ivy League fortunes in its final home matches of the season against Penn and Princeton Nov. 4 and 5, respectively.


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