This weekend, the volleyball team (15-5, 6-4 Ivy) split away games with a win against Penn (3-17, 1-9) and a loss against Princeton (10-8, 7-3). Despite suffering a pair of defeats in their matches against Princeton and Yale this season, the Bears have dominated all other Ivy opponents so far.
Friday night's matchup for the Bears was a sweep at the Quakers’ home court in Pennsylvania.
Two Bruno players — Jilienne Widener ’24 and Mariia Sidorova ’26 — reached 12 kills, with Sidorova adding an ace.
“The key to winning the battles at the net comes down to confidence in myself and trust in my teammates,” Widener wrote in a message to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “I am not afraid to swing in high-pressure situations because I know I have spent countless hours preparing for those exact moments.”
The kills were supplemented by 29 assists and six kills from Cierra Jenkins ’24.
Jenkins “is an incredible setter and puts up a hittable ball no matter where she is on the court, so a lot of my success is attributable to her athleticism and amazing sets,” Widener wrote.
Despite winning the first set and the subsequent powerful offensive performance, the Bears didn’t have immediate control of the attack. Bruno won five points off Penn errors and was outhit .361 to .255 despite out-killing the Quakers 17 to 15. The Bears had two service aces, a high point of this set.
In the second set, the Quakers began a back-and-forth with the Bears. Despite trailing 15-18, a run by the Bears commanded by Jenkins from the serving line gave Bruno a late 20-18 lead. From then on, the Quakers never retook the lead, pushing the score to 22-20 but losing three straight.
The third set featured a crushing performance from Bruno. After the Quakers displayed life in the second set, the Bears outscored the Quakers 25-12, out-killing them 16 to eight with a hitting percentage of .382 compared to Penn’s dismal .086.
The set was at 3-2 when Kayla Griebl ’25 stepped up to the serving line, sparking a run of eight straight points for the Bears, which included an ace for Griebl and six kills for Bruno as a team.
Saturday, the Bears made a trip to Princeton, looking for revenge for the 1-3 defeat they suffered at the hands of the Tigers in September. Despite their best efforts, history repeated itself and the Bears fell 1-3 again.
The first set was all Brown. The team came out swinging with a hitting percentage of .417, converting on 13 of the 24 attacking attempts, whereas the Tigers only hit .087.
The story of the first set was the aces. Victoria Vo ’25 opened the match with a two-point run of two aces, and Bruno finished the first set with five overall.
“Serving has been a strength of ours all year,” wrote Head Coach Taylor Virtue in a message to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “Extending that type of service pressure throughout a match comes down to consistency and trust. When we are able to trust ourselves from the service line, we create difficult situations for our opponents, which in turn puts our defense in a position to succeed.”
The Bears continued the early push and went up 9-3 on the Tigers, but Princeton quickly pursued a comeback and cut the lead to 10-9. From then on, the Bears didn’t lift their foot off the gas, winning four straight, then three straight, then three again and closing the set 25-16 on a four-point run.
The Bears couldn’t maintain this power through the next three sets, failing to achieve a hitting percentage above .250 for the rest of the match.
Despite coming close to winning in the second set, going up 23-21 off the back of a four-point run, they lost four straight and the Tigers were victorious.
Princeton led the entirety of the third set and edged out the Bears 25-21. The Tigers then went on to hand the Bears a crushing 25-12 defeat in the fourth, when the Bears had a hitting percentage of 0.0 to the Tiger’s resounding .344.
“I generally don't buy into momentum being the reason a team wins or loses. Each moment is a new moment, each point is a new point,” Virtue wrote. “The ability to compartmentalize a competition that way is important and also extremely difficult. We will keep working to find success regardless of where the momentum is with.”
The Bears will continue their long road trip this weekend as they head to Harvard Friday night and Dartmouth Saturday. Both games will be streamed live on ESPN+.
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.