The volleyball team (16-6, 7-5 Ivy League) split a pair of away games this weekend with a loss against Harvard (14-7, 7-5) and a win against Dartmouth (8-13, 5-7). The win against Dartmouth clinched the Bears a spot in the Ivy League playoffs.
“Earning the opportunity to compete in (the) postseason is what we work for all year, big moments are coming and we are eager to be a part of that,” Head Coach Taylor Virtue wrote in a message to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “But we have two regular season matches to compete in first, every match is a big match from here on out!”
Bruno lost in straight sets to Harvard Friday night, marking their second consecutive loss and the second time the Bears lost in straight sets this season.
It was a mostly disappointing night for the Bears offensively, who, despite Mariia Sidorova’s ’26 10 kills, only managed 36 kills to the Crimson’s 43. An even greater problem for the Bears was their hitting percentage — they were outhit .158 to .289.
The issues extended to the Bears’ defense. Jessie Golden ’26, who averages 5.57 digs a set, had 12 digs across all three. Bruno’s backline also combined for eight receiving errors.
The first set was a battle for the Bears and their best of the night — they hit .275, the highest of the night, and notched 17 kills.
After Bruno played a close set only down 8-9 early, Harvard went on a six-point serving run to put Bruno down by seven. Brown battled back, winning 15 of the next 22 points to take a 23-22 lead. But their recent woes in finishing out close sets continued.
After going up 24-23, the Bears could not find the match point, and Harvard won three straight to take the set.
The Bears’ hitting struggles began to show more in the second set, as they only hit .129, far lower than the first but still higher than the third, where they hit only .033.
Despite their offensive issues, the Bears built commanding leads twice in the second set — going up 13-9 and 17-12. Bruno couldn’t hold either of these leads and found themselves losing the set 25-22 after a 13-5 run by Harvard.
The third set was a battle through the first 24 points, as it was tied 12-12. Bruno then lost control of the match and went down 17-12 after two attacking errors and two service aces.
Bruno tried to chip at the lead, but couldn’t make up any significant ground and lost 25-18.
Saturday’s game marked a complete turnaround. The Bears dominated, sweeping Dartmouth in straight sets. Offensively, they managed a hitting percentage of .277 across the three sets and .529 in the third and final set.
“We are a team playing with a lot of purpose right now as we prepare for the postseason, so we went into Saturday night hungry and ready to compete against another team in a similar situation,” Virtue wrote. “We wanted to control our side of the net with great communication and a consistent mentality of moving on to the next point regardless of how the last one ended. I thought we did a great job of executing that all match.”
Sidorova notched 13 kills, matching Jilienne Widener ’24 for a team-high. Cierra Jenkins ’24 launched the Bears forward with another strong performance, assisting on 33 of their 44 kills.
The net defense, led by Gabby Derrick ’25, Beau Vanderlaan ’25 and Widener crushed the Big Green, accumulating 11 blocks — a three-set season high.
“We've been working on our blocking constantly in practice and most importantly, focused on making an immediate change if something does not work,” Vanderlaan wrote in a message to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “We executed those changes on Saturday. The key to the frontline defense is constantly adapting to line up correctly; it is being willing to change your set-up if it's not working.”
The receiving, led by Golden with 18 and Victoria Vo ’25 with 14, was also strong for the Bears, digging 63 balls up, another three-set season high.
The Bears held the Big Green to 14 points in the first and third sets. The highlight of the match was Vo’s eight-point serving run to put the Bears on set point in the first set.
Dartmouth only led the Bears a single time through all of the three sets.
Bruno will return home Friday night for the last weekend of regular season play with a match against Cornell.
“This weekend, we're expecting a dog fight,” Vanderlaan wrote. “Towards the end of the season, teams are often emotional and want to get these last few wins for their seniors so we have to expect everyone is going to come out on top of their game.”
Dennis Carey is a sports senior staff writer for The Brown Daily Herald. He previously contributed to the Arts and Culture section. In his spare time, he enjoys watching Atlanta sports and collecting vinyl records.