The volleyball team had a hot-and-cold weekend at home as the Bears (9-4, 1-2 Ivy) bested Dartmouth (5-7, 1-2) 3-1 in their first conference game on home turf Friday before falling to Harvard (3-9, 1-2) 3-0 on Saturday.
Brown outshone the Big Green by coming back with three consecutive wins after dropping the first set (13-25, 25-14, 25-17, 25-18). But the following day, the spirited Bears were painted over by the hard-charging Crimson, handing over all three sets of the match (17-25, 20-25, 23-25).
Friday, it took the Bears 25 points to find their footing. Dartmouth took an early four-point lead in the first set. Right-side hitter Eliza Grover ’21 got the game started for Brown, scoring the team’s first point off an assist from setter Kristin Sellers ’22. The Bears continued to trade points back and forth with the Big Green, but never came within more than two points of a comeback, finishing the set trailing 25-13. Dartmouth should have savored the moment, because it would be its last taste of victory for the night.
Grover slammed down Brown’s first kill off another opportunity from Sellers to open the second set, and it was off to the races. The Bears let the whole arena know how much they wanted the set by posting 13 kills, with two from outside hitter Gabrielle Moriconi ’21, who would tally 10 kills by the end of the night. Ahead 17-14, Bruno sprinted to the finish with eight consecutive points to take the set 25-14.
“We made some blocks early in set two that allowed us to get some good digging opportunities,” said Head Coach Ahen Kim. “If you look at the stat line, we out-dug Dartmouth by over double digits.”
At the top of the third set it appeared as though the Big Green had figured the Bears out, coming in with an early 2-1 lead. But Dartmouth would prove to be Sophia Miller’s ’23 latest victim as she notched six kills in the set and claimed the second double-double of her collegiate career over the course of the match.
“We tried to find a steady roll and get back in our groove, really feel (Dartmouth) out and make some adjustments to what they were doing,” Moriconi said. “Once we got our footing, we started to run with it.”
Moriconi was the Bears’ rallying cry to finish the fourth and final set strong, notching the last five of her 10 total kills in the match. Dartmouth went down swinging, but when the score got close at 5-4, Brown swung into action with a string of six points to put the score at a comfortable 10-5. After a hot and defensive back-and-forth, Brown emerged victorious at 25-18 with Miller pounding the final nail in the Big Green coffin off a set from Emma Chow ’21.
The Bears did not have a long time to bask in their success, however, as they took the court against Harvard the following day. The Crimson bombarded Bruno, taking a 2-1 lead early in the first set and going on the first of several tears in the set, which ultimately concluded 25-17 in favor of Harvard. While individual Bears managed to post impressive numbers, the team could not come together as a unit to box with the Crimson at any point in the match. Middle blocker Olivia Dukat ’22 claimed a team season record with 10.5 points on three blocks and nine kills, and Miller came just shy of back-to-back double-doubles with nine kills and nine digs.
“The first part of the match really set the tone for how the rest of the match played out,” said libero Kaitlyn Wong ’23. “We totally could have taken that moment and turned it around, but instead we sank into what was already out there so didn’t ever flip that switch.”
Libero for all three sets, Wong came away with nine acrobat-quality digs in the set, regularly vaulting through the air to keep close calls alive for the Bears.
The second set was a bit more stable, with the Bears managing to come within five points of victory. But Harvard ultimately continued to dominate, claiming the set 25-20.
“They dug way more balls and had way more opportunities for swings,” Kim said. “To Harvard’s credit, they swung every opportunity they had. They kept pressure on us in a way that we haven’t seen yet this season. The way they played today was the best team we’ve seen so far.”
Brown never managed to capture a set but came closer on each attempt. The final game nearly forced the game into a fourth period, with the Bears taking the lead early and maintaining it up until the end. Brown came out with five points thanks to a crafty set by Sellers, one of 16 she supplied for Bruno in the match.
“We started putting balls away ourselves, we started hitting spots, and we started mixing it up on the hits which was great,” Sellers said. “I thought our setters did a good job in one-on-one situations, which really helped us.”
Brown held the lead until Harvard managed to claw its way back from a seven point deficit, tying the set at 21. Hard-fought kills by Dukat and Moriconi kept hope in the stands, but two Harvard points sealed the fate of the Bears, who dropped the final set 25-23.
Brown will face Penn, its fourth consecutive Ancient Eight opponent, on the road Friday. The Bears will endeavor to keep their streak alive after winning every match against the Quakers last season.