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Volleyball sweeps Mason Invite, continues undefeated surge to open season

Cierra Jenkins ’24 records two 40-assist performances, Mariia Sidorova ’26, Jessie Golden ’26 set career highs

<p>The Bears have won 21 of 23 sets to open the season.</p><p>Courtesy of Brown Athletics</p>

The Bears have won 21 of 23 sets to open the season.

Courtesy of Brown Athletics

The volleyball team (7-0) swept its three matches at the Mason Invite in Fairfax, Virginia this weekend, extending its undefeated season record. In a doubleheader on Friday, the Bears beat the George Mason University Patriots (4-5) in four sets before sweeping the Radford University Highlanders (1-8). Saturday morning, the Bears swept the Robert Morris University Colonials (3-5).

Cierra Jenkins ’24, the 2021 Ivy League Player of the Year, was named Ivy League Player of the Week for her efforts, recording two 40-assist performances against George Mason and Robert Morris. She currently leads the Ivy League with 10.5 assists per set.

Despite winning nine of 10 sets played at the invitational, the Bears participated in a number of close contests: Four sets were decided by three points or fewer, while only two sets were decided by a margin of seven or more points.

“This group is pretty veteran in their on-court experience and not easily shaken in pressure situations,” wrote Head Coach Taylor Virtue in a message to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “We talk a lot about preparing for big moments and trusting ourselves when we get to them. That's exactly what we did this weekend and what we will continue to do throughout the rest of the year."


The Bears’ sole slip up came in the second set against George Mason, when the team blew a 24-21 lead by allowing five straight Patriot points. In the third set, Bruno found themselves up 24-20, and allowed two points before preventing another comeback with a kill from Beau Vanderlaan ’25.

Mariia Sidorova ’26 struck the final kill in the fourth set to give the Bears the win. Sidorova finished the match with 16 kills, tied for a career high, and finished the weekend with 37 kills overall — her most in a three-game span with the Bears.

Another standout performance came from Jessie Golden ’26, who racked up a career-high 28 digs against George Mason.

“In the match against George Mason, I felt like our defense was able to read and move behind the block well, which led us to more digs,” Golden wrote in a message to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “We were anticipating what the opponent’s hitters were going to do.”

In the match against Radford, the Bears’ defense further locked in, holding the Highlanders to a .046 hitting percentage. This included a negative percentage in the first two sets, when the Bears tallied nine blocks.

“A big part of their low hitting percentage was our block,” Golden wrote. “Our block was big, so it forced the hitters to tip and roll. Once we were able to pick these shots up on defense, it also forced them” to commit errors.

The Bears and Highlanders remained neck-and-neck for much of the third set, with neither team holding a lead greater than three points. With the score tied 25-25, the Bears scored two straight with a kill from Hannah Flannery ’26 and an attack error to earn the win.

The Bears’ offense displayed a strong showing against Robert Morris, recording a hitting percentage above .300 in all three sets. In the second set, the Bears found themselves down 20-17, but promptly went on a four-point tear with three kills from Kate Sheire ’24. Sheire totaled 38.5 points across the invite’s three matches.

With the score knotted at 24, Vanderlaan struck back-to-back kills to seal the Bruno victory. The Bears went on to win the third set 25-18.

The team has now won seven consecutive games and 21 out of 23 sets to open their season under the leadership of Virtue, who is in her first season as head coach after serving as an assistant coach the past two seasons.


“Coach Virtue has been a great leader for our team because it feels like we are a family,” Golden wrote. “We know she can lead us to wins and to play the best we can as a team.”

“She’s really put a lot of love and hard work into this program, and I think it’s gonna show this season,” Kayla Griebl ’25 said of Virtue after a home win against Stonehill last week.

This weekend, the team will play three matches on the road in Connecticut against Binghamton University, Michigan State University and the University of Connecticut before beginning Ivy play in New Haven against Yale Sept. 22.

After winning the Ivy League Championship in 2021 and placing second in 2022, the Bears’ surging start to the season continues to raise expectations for what the team could accomplish. But according to Virtue, the team’s approach will be to remain concentrated on the game ahead of them.

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"The next match is the most important one for us,” she wrote. “We're going to focus on being ready for our Saturday afternoon match and then we will take it one moment at a time after that."

Linus Lawrence

Linus is a sports editor from New York City. He is a junior concentrating in English, and when he's out of The Herald office you can find him rooting for the Mets, watching Star Wars or listening to The Beach Boys.


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