The women's volleyball team (2-4) defeated Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (0-11) in five sets Sunday night, securing their first and only win of the Rice Adidas Invitational in Texas.
The Bears and the Islanders kept it close in the first set, but Bruno ultimately could not pull out the set win, losing by a score of 26-24. Following that, Brown fell further behind in the second set, losing 25-19.
With the game on the line, Bruno faced another back-and-forth set, but the Bears shifted the match’s overall momentum and came out on top. A kill by middle blocker Beau Vanderlaan ’25 secured Brown’s 25-22 win in the third set.
“We made tactical changes and tried to speak some clarity into the situation versus treating it like everything is crumbling around us,” said Head Coach Ahen Kim in regards to the Bears’ mindset.
Still at the mercy of the Islanders’ 2-1 advantage, the Bears fought to stay in the game in the fourth set. Outside hitter Sophia Miller ’23 and her three straight kills helped Brown earn a 25-19 win and sent the game into a fifth set.
The Bears carried the momentum from winning the last two sets with them into the final. The Islanders made four straight errors, allowing Brown to go up 11-5. More fierce kills from Vanderlaan and Miller, along with a kill from right-side hitter Kate Sheire ’24, pushed Brown to a 15-10 win over the fifth set.
After losing their first two games of the tournament in straight sets to Rice University (8-1) and Texas Tech University (8-0), the Bears were ready for a Texas win and fought hard to avoid leaving the Lone Star State without a victory.
Kim noted that the Bears had been in two prior five-set games this season, one against Bryant University and the other against the United States Air Force Academy, but lost both. He called this turnaround a season-defining moment, saying, “no matter how rough (we) start a game, we’re capable, we’re qualified and we can learn anything.”
According to Kim, the team’s weekend in Texas taught them that despite being the reigning Ivy League Champions, they “don’t have to be perfect. (They) just have to be the hardest working and most deliberate team and (they) can find (their) way out of most situations.”
Even after their conference-winning season, the team views this year as an opportunity to do even more, rather than just a chance to defend their conference title, according to Vanderlaan. “Our team has been preparing since the end of last season for this upcoming season. Every returner came back with a hunger to clinch the title again. Every (first-year) has given 110% into this program and I am so proud of their progress thus far,” she wrote in a message to The Herald. “While we are technically ‘defending’ the title, I believe our mindset has to be one of attack. Attacking every sleep, every practice, every warmup and every set.”
The team is up for the task, according to outside hitter Kayla Griebl ’25. “Everyone comes in to practice ready to work, ready to learn, ready to do anything that will help benefit the team,” she wrote in a message to The Herald. “We do our best to be the embodiment of grit, gratitude, and servant leadership.”
Additional reporting by Gabriella Sartori.