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Volleyball defeats Penn to clinch spot in Ivy League Tournament

Bears beat Quakers in five sets to earn place in inaugural volleyball tournament

<p>The volleyball team will face Harvard and Dartmouth this week at Brown before the Ivy League Tournament that is set to begin Nov. 18.</p><p>Courtesy of Tamar Krietman via Brown Athletics</p>

The volleyball team will face Harvard and Dartmouth this week at Brown before the Ivy League Tournament that is set to begin Nov. 18.

Courtesy of Tamar Krietman via Brown Athletics

The volleyball team (12-9, 8-4 Ivy League) beat Penn (2-20, 1-11) Saturday night in Philadelphia after a five-set battle to clinch Bruno’s spot in the Ivy League Tournament. The win came after a five-set loss to Princeton (19-3, 11-1) the night before on the road. 

Princeton is tied with Yale for first place in the Ivy League going into the final weekend of regular season play, with the teams having split their two matchups against each other. Dartmouth will take the fourth spot in the tournament, which will be held later this month.

Brown 2, Princeton 3

Bruno was led offensively by Sophia Miller ’23, who matched her career high with 24 kills, hitting .400 in the match. This game marked Miller’s third straight match posting 20 or more kills. 

Kayla Griebl ’25 contributed 14 kills and Beau Vanderlaan ’25 added 10 on .409 hitting, while Ella Park ’26 guided the offense with 49 assists. Brown out-blocked Princeton 17-9 with Kate Sheire ’24 tallying nine rejections, while Jessie Golden ’26 led the backline defense with 17 digs. 

The Bears took the first set with an efficient .419 hitting clip while holding the Tigers to .184 hitting. Bruno was down 9-8 before going on a 4-0 run to take a 12-9 lead, and held the lead for the remainder of the set. The run was highlighted by kills by Miller and Gabby Derrick ’25. Brown stretched its lead to five as it approached set point with the help of one kill by Park and another by Miller, setting the score at 22-17. Two of the Bears’ next three points came from kills by Miller as Bruno took the set 25-19. 

The two teams traded runs of two and three points at the start of the second set, but eventually Princeton took a 19-14 advantage with the help of a 4-0 run. Brown fought to within three points with a kill by Sheire and a kill by Griebl, with the score 22-19. Princeton scored the next point, and the Bears answered with a kill by Vanderlaan and an ace by Victoria Vo ’25 to reduce the deficit to two points at 23-21. The teams traded points before Princeton took the set 25-22. 

Brown was up 10-9 in the third set before Princeton went on a 9-1 run to put the Bears down 18-11. Bruno could not claw its way out of the hole, and Brown dropped the set 25-15. 

The Bears responded in the fourth set by going on an early 11-2 run, eventually taking a 16-10 lead. Four kills by Miller, a kill by Vanderlaan and two consecutive service aces by Park fueled the run. Princeton went on a 4-0 run to come within three points of Bruno’s lead at 18-15. From there, the two teams traded points, but Princeton could not overcome the lead Brown earned during its extended run, and the Bears took the set 25-21. 

In the final set, Bruno went up 7-5 following a kill by Griebl and a service ace by Golden. From there, Princeton went on a 5-1 run, putting the Tigers up 10-8. The two teams traded points, with Vanderlaan coming up with two kills and Miller adding another to leave the Bears down 12-11. The Tigers scored twice before Bruno went on a 4-0 run — highlighted by kills by Sheire and Miller and an ace by Miller — to take a 15-14 lead. Princeton tied it up at 15, and Sheire provided a kill to put the Bears up by one. But Princeton scored the next three in a row to take the set 18-16 and the match 3-2. 

Brown 3, Penn 2

Miller led Brown in scoring again against Penn, notching 16 kills and 12 digs for a double-double. Sheire posted 13 kills and five blocks, and Vanderlaan had 12 kills on .478 hitting, adding eight blocks. Park tallied six kills, six blocks and seven digs to go along with her 42 assists in the match. The Bears out-blocked the Quakers 15-5 and registered 14 service aces to Penn’s six. 

Bruno narrowly dropped the first two sets against Penn 25-22 and 26-24, respectively. But Brown turned things around in the third set, jumping out to an 8-3 lead with the help of three kills by Miller. The two teams traded points in the middle of the set, and the Bears went on another run, this time a 4-0 stretch, to set the score at 19-12. Penn cut Bruno’s lead to two at 20-18, but Brown wrapped up the set 25-20. 

The Bears were up 6-5 in the fourth set before exploding for a 14-1 run that featured three aces by Vo and two by Golden to go up 20-6. The Bears ended the set on a 5-0 run marked by an ace by Griebl and one kill apiece from Miller and Vanderlaan. 

The final set was tied at seven when Vanderlaan struck for a kill and an ace, followed by a Penn error, to put Bruno up 10-7. Penn scored once more before Brown went on a 5-0 run to close out the set 15-8 and earn a 3-2 victory in the match. 

After reaching one of their goals for the season in earning a spot in the Ivy League Tournament, Head Coach Ahen Kim said the Bears have much to be proud of as they strive for further success. 

“You play good ball, you're going to get rewarded with even more volleyball,” Kim said. “To do it with another week still remaining gives us a little bit more room for preparation and a little bit more air under our wings.”

“To me, what’s most encouraging is just how Jessie as libero and Ella (a setter) as (first-years) these last couple weeks have just taken such big jumps to put us in winning positions. To me, that’s more encouraging than the result,” Kim added. “We’re just playing better volleyball.”

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The tournament will offer a new postseason environment that the players have never experienced. “It’ll feel different when you don’t know if you get to play the next match or if your season ends that week. That pressure is a little bit different,” Kim said. Making “the big plays when you need them … is what this environment really is about.”

With their tournament berth locked in, Griebl said she feels “a little bit of relief, but now we just have to look forward to playing teams that we have not been able to beat this year. … We’re just going to have to go in with a little bit more intensity, more focus and just keep our eye on the main goal, which is to beat whoever we’re paired up with first.”

As for the team’s defeat to Princeton, Griebl appreciates the experience of having played such a close game with an Ivy League Championship contender. “Even though the result wasn’t what we wanted or expected, even through the ups and downs, it was just a really, really fun game because it was … super competitive” on both sides, she said.

Vanderlaan is focused on the upcoming games this weekend in advance of the tournament and is making an effort not to look too far ahead. “We really want to make our presence known and be in that top three in the Ivy League,” Vanderlaan said. “Every team in the Ivy League right now is a great team. You can’t discount anyone. Everyone has proven themselves tremendously.”

“We’re really excited. We have to get through Dartmouth and Harvard first, then after that all our attention goes to whoever we play first in the tournament,” she added. “We can’t wait to show what we can do.”

The Bears will host Harvard Friday at 7 p.m. and Dartmouth Saturday at 5 p.m. in their last two regular season games. The Ivy League Tournament will be held Nov. 18 to 20. 



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