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‘Now or never’: volleyball sweeps Dartmouth, Harvard, extends win streak to five

Beau Vanderlaan ’25 records 21 kills over pair weekend matches

<p>Bruno won each set against Harvard by more than five points. The Crimson never led the Bears by more than three points during the entire match.</p>

Bruno won each set against Harvard by more than five points. The Crimson never led the Bears by more than three points during the entire match.

The women’s volleyball team (14-3, 5-2 Ivy League) extended its win streak to five this weekend, sweeping both Dartmouth (6-10, 3-4) and Harvard (11-5, 4-3) in three sets at home.

The Bears began their weekend Friday night, defeating Dartmouth in the “Dig Pink” game to support the fight against breast cancer. Between the first and second set, the team asked for the crowd to stand in solidarity with people who have had breast cancer. The team sold T-shirts Wednesday and Thursday, donating the proceeds to the breast cancer charity Side-Out Foundation.

“Breast cancer research and awareness is a women's issue that I care deeply about,” said Head Coach Taylor Virtue. “Just today we've had so many people tell us that their family members are survivors or more unfortunately taken too soon because of it, so I'm just really proud to be a part of a group that cares about that and wants to make a difference.”

The Bears took the first set of Friday’s match in a 25-22 victory over the Big Green, led primarily by the serving efforts of Victoria Vo ’25, who collected four aces. Setter Cierra Jenkins ’24 and outside hitter Kayla Griebl ’25 notched two and one aces, respectively, giving Brown a total of seven in the first set.


“It's absolutely one of the reasons that we're (14-3). We’re a good serving team,” Virtue said. “Seven aces is what it looks like after a lot of hard work.”

Bruno also dominated the net in the first set with another standout performance from middle blocker Beau Vanderlaan ’25. In total, she managed eight kills and five blocks Friday night. 

“We call that ‘short court,’ which is dominating within the 10-foot line of each court,” Vanderlaan said. “We practice that all the time and those are the best plays in my opinion. It's like hitter (versus) hitter.” 

Vanderlaan was not alone in the attack, with Griebl notching 10 kills of her own and right-side hitter Kate Sheire ’24 notching another nine for a total of 19 between the two of them, accounting for almost half of the Bears’ 40 kills on the evening.

Jenkins posted a strong statistical performance, leading the team with 25 assists in addition to notching five kills and 11 digs.

“I think on the court, we all played as one unit,” she said. “We're encouraging each other, pursuing every ball and giving each other confidence.”

After a 25-18 victory in the second set, Bruno had their work cut out for them after going down 19-13 in the third. But they surged back with nine straight points, led by three kills from Jenkins and three aces from Mariia Sidorova ’26. 

“We just had to change the momentum and get in control of our side of the court again,” Jenkins said. “We really tried to apply pressure on our serves, get them out of system and attack the setter, which really helped gain our momentum back.”

The Big Green didn’t roll over easily, however, and tied the game at 24. But the Bears managed two straight points to win 26-24 for a comeback victory.

“We hope to not put ourselves in that situation too often, but it's a big deal to be able to do that,” Virtue said.


“The win is absolutely amazing,” Vanderlaan said. “We all realized we have to kick it into gear. It's now or never.”

The following night, the Bears defeated Harvard in their second sweep of the weekend. 

Harvard entered the game leading the Ivy League in aces, but the Bears held strong, managing to only allow five while responding with nine of their own. 

Bruno’s offense was crushing, hitting 44 kills to Harvard’s 27 and posting a hitting percentage of .291 as compared to the Crimson’s .116. Brown also outscored Harvard 61-35 on official points.

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The effort was led by Vanderlaan, who had 13 kills alongside nine by Sheire and eight by outside hitter Jilienne Widener ’24.

Jenkins followed up Friday’s performance with another strong showing, offering up 32 assists and five kills with a hitting percentage of .500.

Bruno won each set by more than five points, winning each of the first two sets 25-19 and the third 25-18. The Crimson never led the Bears by more than three points during the entire match. 

The Bears look to continue their win streak against Yale, whom they lost to earlier in the season in a 3-2 heartbreaker, at the Pizzitola Sports Center Friday night.

Dennis Carey

Dennis Carey is a Sports Editor who enjoys playing volleyball, listening to and collecting vinyl records, and poorly playing the guitar in his spare time.

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