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Volleyball defeats Dartmouth, Harvard to continue winning streak

Bears use balanced attacking, backline defense to win four consecutive games

<p>The Bears will play two games this weekend at the Pizzitola Sports center, against Penn Friday at 7 p.m. and against Princeton Saturday at 5 p.m.</p><p>Courtesy of Brown University Athletics</p>

The Bears will play two games this weekend at the Pizzitola Sports center, against Penn Friday at 7 p.m. and against Princeton Saturday at 5 p.m.

Courtesy of Brown University Athletics

The volleyball team (8-6, 4-1 Ivy League) returned from a weekend road trip to Dartmouth (10-5, 2-3) Friday night and Harvard (2-11, 1-4) Saturday night with two more wins. The Bears dropped the first set against Dartmouth before winning the next six sets in a row across the two matches, defeating their opponents 3-1 and 3-0 respectively. 

Brown 3, Dartmouth 1

Bruno’s offense never faltered against Dartmouth despite losing the first set, highlighted by Kayla Griebl ’25 tallying 15 kills in the match. But Brown allowed Dartmouth to hit .381 in the opening set, which led to the Bears’ 25-22 defeat.

Bruno then secured its defense, holding the Big Green to .226 for the match. Jessie Golden ’26 led the Bears with a career-record 19 digs on the backline. Victoria Vo ’25 added 11 digs, and Sophia Miller ’23 posted 10 for a double-double with 14 kills. 

Brown’s offense peaked in the second set, hitting .410 behind multiple kills from Kate Sheire ’24, Beau Vanderlaan ’25 and Cierra Jenkins ’24, as well as Griebl and Miller. Bruno broke away from a 9-9 tie by going on a 4-0 run to set the score at 13-9. The Bears maintained their lead for the rest of the set, eventually stretching it to 22-15. Brown finished the set with kills from Sheire, Vanderlaan and Griebl to earn a 25-19 win. 

The Bears held their momentum into the third set, opening with eight unanswered points. The run ended with back-to-back blocks from the duo of Vanderlaan — who ended the night with a team-high seven blocks — and Jenkins. Bruno pushed its lead to 10 and kept the Big Green from coming within seven points of the lead for the duration of the set. Brown took the set 25-16, closed with a kill by Jenkins.

Brown controlled the fourth set from the start, jumping to an early 10-5 lead behind two kills by Gabby Derrick ’25. Two kills by Griebl later spurred a 4-0 run that put the Bears up 17-8. Bruno took a 23-13 lead and conceded six straight points to the Big Green, before wrapping up the set 25-19 with kills by Miller and Sheire and ending the match.

Brown 3, Harvard 0

The Bears matched a season-high 11 service aces in their three-set victory over Harvard. Griebl led Brown with a career-high six aces as Bruno’s defense continued its dominance from the previous night, holding the Crimson to .158 hitting. Vanderlaan led the offense with 14 kills on a career-high .737 hitting percentage. 

Four of Griebl’s six aces came in one rotation in the first set. The Bears were down 15-11 before Griebl stepped to the endline and sparked a 9-0 run that also featured two kills by Vanderlaan, giving Brown a 20-15 lead. Harvard answered with a 5-0 run, but a Crimson error and a kill by Derrick gave Bruno the advantage. The Bears ultimately closed the set 25-21 with two consecutive kills by Sheire. 

In the second set, Brown’s offense found its groove with Bruno hitting .588 with no errors. The Bears held a 15-11 lead before going on another 9-0 run featuring two kills and a block by Vanderlaan as well as two straight service aces by Vo. Harvard scored once at set point, but Vanderlaan ended the set with another kill.

The Bears cruised to victory in the third set, taking an early 9-6 lead before two kills by Vanderlaan spurred a run that put the Bears up 15-9. Later, with Bruno already up by five, Sheire, Miller and Griebl added kills to contribute to a 5-0 run that set the score at 23-13. Harvard responded with a 4-0 run, but kills by Griebl and Sheire closed the match before the Crimson had a chance to take a set. 

Head Coach Ahen Kim said the first set loss against Dartmouth resulted in rotational changes in the lineup that led to the team winning its next six sets, including moving Vanderlaan to the front row to start.

“The whole league knew (Vanderlaan) was a force, but she is doing some unbelievable things,” Kim said. “Set three against Dartmouth, she came out blocking I think four balls in a row, and then at Harvard she had the sneakiest 14 kills I’ve seen in three sets.” 

Vanderlaan has been “so terminal, so unrattled, so trustworthy, so reliable in terms of her positioning and her timing,” Kim said.

Brown also adjusted its approach to serving after the first set against Dartmouth, which led the team to tie its season-high in service aces against Harvard. 

“We progressively got tougher serving, not just throughout (the Dartmouth) match but throughout the weekend as we went to Harvard,” Kim said, adding that it was noteworthy to have 11 aces in only three sets.

Griebl, who led the Bears with six aces against Harvard, said she had to establish confidence in her serving early in the match before progressing to more aggressive techniques. “First serve, I always think, ‘Just get it over and in,’ and then from there on when you gain momentum you can hit higher and harder,” Griebl said. 

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Griebl led the team against Dartmouth with 15 kills but said that having multiple Brown players posing a threat at the net forced Dartmouth’s defense to choose who to cover, creating opportunities for Bruno to score. 

“The blockers on the other side have to spread out because it’s not always one person (on our team) that has the hot hand. It’s usually two or three or four of us that do,” Griebl said. 

Golden, who led the backline defense against Dartmouth, also said losing the first set of the weekend sparked a shift in the team’s energy. “It woke us up and showed us that we had to be more competitive,” she said. “Our defense really started to go for every ball and we started to be more aggressive throughout the game.”

After two overnight trips for four straight road games, the Bears will play this weekend at home. “It’s nice to see the leaves change colors and all that stuff, but I think I speak for the whole team when I say we love being at home and playing in front of our home crowd,” Kim said.

The Bears will return to the Pizzitola Sports Center Friday at 7 p.m. against Penn and Saturday at 5 p.m. against Princeton.



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