The women’s volleyball team (14-4, 7-1 Ivy) lost its first Ivy League match of the season at home to Yale (12-5, 5-3 Ivy) after winning its first seven conference matches. Yale took the first two sets, but Brown came back to tie the match at two sets apiece. In the final set, the Bears fended off four match points before finally succumbing to the Bulldogs 15-13.
Yale dominated the first set while Brown struggled to find its footing. Bruno committed nine errors in the set, enabling the Bulldogs to run away with it 25-17.
The second set was much tighter, with both teams having opportunities to take it. Bruno raced out to a 22-17 lead and appeared to be in control of the set, but Yale fought back with five unanswered points to tie things up. Still, Brown set up match point at 24-23 with a kill from right-side hitter Kate Sheire ’24. But the Bulldogs rattled off three straight points including a service ace to take a commanding two-set lead.
Yale “is preseason number one for a reason,” Head Coach Ahen Kim said. “They were really prepared for us, and I thought we were a little bit shocked by them.”
Brown fell behind 6-2 early in the third set and appeared in danger of a swift three-straight-set defeat. The Bears maintained their composure, though, and chipped away at the Yale lead before pulling ahead 17-16. Bruno seized the momentum and took the set 25-20, with outside hitter Sophia Miller ’23 delivering the kill on set point.
The Ivy League rivals battled for the lead in a hard-fought fourth set, as Brown jumped ahead 12-7 before Yale tied the set at 16 apiece. Yale set up match point at 24-23 after a Brown service error, but this time it was Bruno’s turn for a late-set run. The Bears won the next three points to take the set 26-24, including two kills by middle blocker Beau Vanderlaan ’25.
“We needed a sense of urgency towards the end,” setter Cierra Jenkins ’24 said. “Sets three and four we came out with that and we showed (Yale) that we wanted to fight this battle to win the fifth set.”
In the deciding set, Brown took its first lead of the match and looked to be in good position to win, up 7-5. But Yale went on another dominant run, this time of seven straight points, to pull ahead 12-7 before setting up match point at 14-9. With their backs against the wall, the Bears won four straight points but ultimately fell three sets to two as Yale’s Kathryn Attar finally converted the winning point.
“We learned a lot today, we gotta use it. Use the anger we have into our next match, use the drive,” Vanderlaan said.
Following Brown’s loss to Yale, the Bears remain in first place in the Ivy League with a 7-1 record. The margin for error is now much thinner for Bruno to win an Ivy League title, as Brown is tied atop the standings with Princeton, although the Bears currently hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Tigers.
“We’re still first place, and it’s just an option of, we gotta grow up through it and learn some lessons here,” Kim said. “We have to get comfortable being the team with a target (on our backs).”
Kim and his players commended the large crowd that came to the Pizzitola Center to watch the match. “Our record is one of the reasons as to why people are starting to come out,” Kim said. “I’m really just thankful to (Athletic Director) Grace Calhoun and the atmosphere she’s starting to build and put together here.”
Brown will hit the road next weekend for matches against Columbia and Cornell, each 2-6 in the Ivy League, before a crucial Nov. 5 showdown with Princeton at the Pizzitola Center that could determine the Ivy League champion.