At the annual Strike ALS match Friday, the volleyball team fell three sets to zero against Princeton, the defending Ivy League Champions. Despite the outcome, standout performances from Shirin Tooloee ’18 and Joanne Won ’21 and a near-comeback in the third set kept the crowd excited.
In the first set, Bruno’s (5-9, 0-3 Ivy) high energy manifested itself into crisp passing and sharp attacks that kept the Tigers (10-3, 3-0) on their toes. A five point streak bolstered by Tooloee’s dominance from the baseline gave Brown a 14-12 lead. But the advantage was short-lived — after leveling the score at 15, Princeton kept the lead and ultimately won the set, 25-21.
The hope of a fresh start in the second set did not last long. Bruno dropped the first three points and never recovered the lead. Princeton’s blocking was nearly impeccable, particularly against attacks from Bruno’s right side hitters, while the Bears’ blocking faltered more than it succeeded. The Tigers won the set 25-16.
“In the first set, they fought really hard,” said Head Coach Diane Short of her team. “In the second set, we ran into a bad rotation that seemed to suck all the energy out of us.”
The third set saw a complete reversal. After regrouping in the locker room, Brown found its rhythm again. A solo block by Courtney Palm ’19 followed shortly by a kill from Tooloee — her ninth of the match — set the pace, as Bruno took a 2-0 lead in the set.
“We realized that we all need to come together and bring our energy back up,” Tooloee said. “That was the big difference. In the first and third sets we had so much energy and we were so excited to play. In the second set we just kinda lost it a little bit.”
Despite the Bears’ rally, the Tigers got a second wind after calling timeout trailing 17-20. Bruno became scrambled on court, losing rallies on attack errors and miscommunications. Ultimately, Princeton scraped by in the set with a 25-23 win to claim the match.
In the loss, Tooloee had a .310 hitting percentage and led the team with 12 kills. Won registered a team-high 13 digs in only her second Ivy League apperance as Brown’s libero.
Despite the loss, Coach Short, Tooloee and teammates have reason to be optimistic. For one, the Spike ALS Match raised over $9,000 — far exceeding the $6,000 goal — to support ALS research. The Bears are also eager for the chance to test themselves on court again. “If anything, this makes us just want to win more,” Tooloee said. “We have fueled the fire now.”
Brown dropped Saturday’s match to Penn in five sets. The team will continue conference play, hosting Cornell Friday and Columbia Saturday.