After surprising first-place Yale by winning the first set comfortably, the volleyball team was unable to sustain early success, eventually falling three sets to one Friday night. Offensive contributions from Sabrina Stillwell ’19 and backcourt coverage by Melissa Cairo ’18 bolstered Brown (6-13, 1-7 Ivy), but could not help the team overcome numerous minor errors and dwindling energy down the stretch.
Though the Bulldogs (13-4, 7-1) currently top the Ivy League standings, the Bears exploded into the first set, taking a comfortable 15-7 lead on the momentum of two four-point streaks. In a complete turnaround from last weekend, Bruno made daring defensive plays to keep rallies alive and built its offense on solid passing and deceptive attacks. Yale almost started a comeback when they registered a three-point streak, but a strategic timeout by Brown Head Coach Diane Short refocused the Bears. Three powerful kills by Jacqueline Jacobs ’20, Courtney Palm ’19 and Stillwell wrapped up the set at 25-20 for Bruno.
The second set opened with the Bulldogs eager to level the playing field. Yale’s early 4-1 lead prompted a Brown timeout, after which Bruno closed the gap. The Bears gained their first lead since the opening point of the set at 19-18, but just a few rallies later, the Bulldogs reclaimed the lead at 21-20. Bruno briefly held off Yale at the first set point but the Bulldogs claimed the set, 25-23.
“The second game, I thought we let it go,” Short said. “We could have won that set. It opened the door for Yale. … Once they got a lead, they could be more aggressive against us. We fell behind and had trouble gaining momentum.”
That loss of momentum was evident in the third set. Though Brown stayed close to Yale and composed in their attacks at the start of the set, the Bears began to slip after a three-point streak put the Bulldogs ahead 9-5. Minor attack errors, balls hit just out of bounds and defensive miscommunications accumulated against Bruno’s favor. The set ended 25-12 to Yale.
The fourth set went quickly. Lack of coordination and physical exhaustion hindered the Bears, and Yale took advantage, delivering quick and well-placed kills and tips over the net. When Yale crossed the 20-point mark, Bruno rallied to earn six points, three from rookie outside hitter Gabrielle Moriconi ’21 on a service ace and two kills. But the push was too little, too late, as Yale claimed the set 25-11 to clinch the win.
“When you’re playing down, you get a little timid, which is always hard,” said Stillwell, who led the team with 14 kills in the match. “We just need to remain confident towards the end of the game and know that we need to be aggressive, be strong.”
Brown will continue Ivy League play by traveling to Penn Friday and Princeton Saturday.