Volleyball Prepares for Final Weekend

By Lillian Wilson

Volleyball looks to finish out the season with big wins this weekend in home games against Princeton and Penn, two Ivy teams that the Big Green has not been able to topple yet this fall. Only other two teams went undefeated by Dartmouth: Yale and Brown, both of which defeated the Dartmouth girls this past weekend in matches away from home. While the losses were disappointing, the team is focused on moving forward, taking things day-by-day and finishing strong. Kendall Houston ’12 said that the team is very excited and especially motivated for a rematch with the teams that have not yet been beaten.Houston described the team’s attitude as “ready to fight hard.”

Volleyball

Senior Kelsey Johnson goes up for a spike.

Hard fights have been a defining characteristic of this fall’s volleyball season. Dartmouth volleyball enjoyed an incredibly strong start: the girls dominated the first seven games of the season and enjoyed ten big wins in September. Presently, the team stands with records of 13-10 overall and 4-8 in the Ivy League. This record may be disappointing for the team after such a successful start; however, the majority of Dartmouth’s losses have been very closely contested matches. Only three teams have “swept” Dartmouth, or beat them 3-0. Jessica Hartman, team captain, attributed the determination and focus the team has exhibited to the existence of great harmony and energy, which she says has been present in the team since pre-season. Big Green volleyball beat Cornell two weekends ago, a huge victory that marked the first time Cornell had been overtaken by Dartmouth in the round robin tournament. The win gave the team momentum going into the game against Yale last Friday, but the match still proved to be a struggle.

Coach Larese expressed pride that the team had “really been in every match played,” but also stressed the importance of continuing momentum through the team’s match-offs at Yale and Brown. Going into those games, Larese hoped to tighten the gap between Ivy League team rankings; however, Yale proved to be a tough opponent, beating Dartmouth 3-0. Yale is one of three teams able to sweep the Big Green

this season.

The other two teams to sweep have been Columbia and Princeton. Taking on Princeton again will undoubtedly be a challenge, but Houston claims the girls are out for “revenge.” They’ll need the motivation, which will hopefully prove to be a sharp enough driving force to make up for last weekend’s disappointment, and maintain team energy. The advantage of home court will also hopefully prove beneficial for the Indians, who usually muster sizeable crowds.

Dartmouth’s last game against Penn was a much closer match than Princeton, with only a 2-3 loss. The rematch will be the last competition of the season. As the seniors reflect on what has been an extremely valuable college experience, the rest of the team hopes for a more successful season in the coming year.

Prospects look quite promising for the talented squad that has already improved its record from the 2009-2010 seasons. The women’s winning play has been rewarded by unprecedented support from fans who have lined the bleachers during home games this year. Coach Larese and Jessie Hartman specifically thanked the fans for their support and said how much they appreciated the exciting environment created during games. The enthusiasm has made a meaningful impact on the girls and has encouraged them to push as hard as they can in every competition. Coach Larese and the team are counting on a good turnout for volleyball’s final matches this weekend and they assure the fans that the goal is victory and that games will be well-fought.

Members of the team highlighted how important practice and game environments can be. Hartman mentioned how great the “vibe and chemistry” were between team members and this chemistry showed in their success on and off the court. The team is a close-knit group of girls who enjoy friendships that go deeper than typical team bonds. Houston noted that practice could be hard this late in the season, but that being with her best friends has made her experience more than rewarding.

The determining factor for this weekend will be maintaining the team’s focus during this final run. It’s hard to come back mentally from tough loses, but the girls seem determined to regain energy and make a strong finish. Crowd support will undoubtedly be extremely important this weekend. Friday’s game against Princeton is at 6 pm and Saturday’sgame against Penn is at 4 pm.