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Volleyball team earns final non-conference win before Ivy League play

Bears split double-header, losing to UConn before winning against Lindenwood

After falling behind early in the first set 13-5, the Bears made adjustments in their substitutions to come within four points in the set, but ultimately could not get ahead. 

Courtesy of David Silverman Photography via Brown Athletics
After falling behind early in the first set 13-5, the Bears made adjustments in their substitutions to come within four points in the set, but ultimately could not get ahead. Courtesy of David Silverman Photography via Brown Athletics

The volleyball team (4-5) beat Lindenwood University (3-6) in a tournament at the University of Connecticut (6-5) Saturday, Bruno’s last non-conference matchup before Ivy League play begins. After losing a match to UConn hours before the Lindenwood game, the Bears locked in to defeat Lindenwood in four sets.  

Brown 1, UConn 3

Brown had a slow start against the Huskies, finishing the game with a .136 hit percentage, significantly lower than their team average of .204 for the season so far. 

After falling behind early in the first set 13-5, the Bears made adjustments in their substitutions to come within four points in the set, but ultimately could not get ahead. 

A back-and-forth second set also went to the Huskies after being tied at eight points. Brown climbed back from an 18-11 deficit with kills by Jilienne Widener ’24, Beau Vanderlaan ’25 and Kate Sheire ’24, who led the Bears in the match with 10 kills, but the effort wasn’t enough. 

Bruno took the third set to keep the game going, coming out strong with a 12-7 lead. The Bears went on a 4-0 run spurred by two kills from Widener and blocks from Widener and Vanderlaan, earning Brown a seven-point lead that the Huskies were unable to overcome.

The fourth and final set was well fought, with the Huskies eventually taking a 23-21 lead. Mariia Sidorova ’26 then had two kills to bring the Bears to set point at 24-23. And after the two teams fought off several set points from each other, three straight UConn points brought the match to a close in the Huskies’ favor. 

Brown 3, Lindenwood 1

The Bears bounced back from their loss earlier in the day to defeat Lindenwood in four sets. Brown’s offense came out strong, with a standout performance from Elise Curtin ’23, who set a career best with 12 kills and tied her career-high six blocks, a personal best she had set in the previous game. Curtin finished the game hitting .450. 

Ella Park ’26 controlled Brown’s offense from the setter position with 36 assists in the win. The first-year, who started for Bruno for the first time Saturday, added 16 digs defensively for a double-double.

With multiple players contributing, Brown dropped only the third set on the way to beating Lindenwood. Kayla Griebl ’25, Vanderlaan, Sheire and Sidorova each had eight kills. Victoria Vo ’25 led the Bears defensively with 21 digs. 

Brown’s offense found its groove in the first set, with the Bears hitting .367. Two kills by Sophia Miller ’23 spurred a 4-0 run that brought the Bears up by five. Two more kills by Curtin and errors from Lindenwood sealed the set for Brown. 

In the second set, Brown came back from a 12-10 deficit, going on a 9-0 run led by three straight blocks featuring Curtin and kills from Curtin, Sidorova and Griebl. Lindenwood crawled back and Brown derailed a set point before Curtin had two kills to give the Bears a 2-0 lead. 

Lindenwood forced a fourth set after scoring the final four points of a tight third set, taking the round 25-23. 

Brown wrapped up the match with an 8-1 run in the beginning of the fourth set, as Lindenwood’s offense faltered. The Bears went up 23-12, and a Lindenwood error and Sidorova kill sealed Brown’s win. 

Despite the loss against UConn, Head Coach Ahen Kim said that the tactical changes his team made within the loss allowed the Bears to prevail against Lindenwood. “Personnel-wise we made some changes in the Lindenwood game, but I think a lot of our tactical changes came through for us in the UConn match, and they were working really well for us,” Kim said. 

Kim emphasized the value of having a roster full of strong players. “We have a lot of really capable players and depth that this program hasn’t had in the past,” he said. 

“Really our offense started to take shape around Ella (Park),” Kim said. At 6 feet 1 inch, the first-year setter is one of the tallest at her position in the Ivy League, and nearly as tall as some of Brown’s middle hitters. Kim noted that Park being in the game allowed middle-hitters to become more central to the Bears’ offense, which was critical in the win.

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Park said she was proud of her success playing such a pivotal role for the Bears in her first career starts, and said she enjoys the opportunity to contribute. “I just always feel grateful to be a part of this program no matter if I am playing or supporting from the sidelines,” Park wrote in a message to The Herald.

Kim acknowledged the importance of getting the first-year players collegiate volleyball experience, allowing them to get comfortable with the pace of the game.

Curtin’s dominant performance against Lindenwood was also instrumental in the win, Kim added. The senior came into the program as an outside hitter, and has worked with the coaching staff for the past year and a half to transition to a middle hitter. 

“Her ability to (perform well) was not a surprise. I’m really proud that (Curtin and Park) connected that quickly,” Kim said. “Knowing that Elise has this ability to score for us is going to be really crucial for us down the stretch.”

Curtin viewed her performance as an opportunity to fill a role for her team. “It’s important to come off the bench and be ready to play that role and do the best that I could with it,” she said.

Bruno’s doubleheader in Connecticut marked their last games before Ivy League play begins Friday at home against Yale. Throughout the preseason, Brown has traveled as far as Texas for tournaments that require the team to play multiple games in short time spans, unlike in Ivy League play.

Heading into conference play with a losing record has not dampened the team’s morale. “Our mindset is the same as it always is. ‘Humble and hungry’ is our team motto,” Curtin said. “I think having tough competition in the beginning has really prepared us for what’s to come in our own league.”

“I don't think anyone (in the Ivy League) had a preseason strength of schedule quite the same as ours,” Kim said. “We’re pretty battle-tested. … We’ll be ready.” 



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