September 28, 2013

Volleyball Falls in Straight Sets at Yale in Ivy League Opener

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – A powerful Yale offense smashed 44 kills as the defending Ivy League champions handed the Brown volleyball team a straight set loss (25-22, 25-13, 25-19) in its Ancient Eight opener at Lee Amphitheater on Saturday. The Bears drop to 4-6 overall and 0-1 in Ivy League play while the Bulldogs improve to 6-3 and 1-0 in conference action.

Senior Thea Derrough (La Jolla, Calif.) and freshman Payton Smith (Atherton, Calif.) shared the team-high with five kills each as Brown was held to a season-low 22 kills and .027 hitting percentage. Senior Alexandra Rieckhoff (Laguna Beach, Calif.) provided a bright spot with 12 digs to go with three kills, while freshman Sarah Lucenti (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and sophomore Rachele Killian (Laguna Beach, Calif.) added nine and eight assists, respectively.

Yale's 44 kills were spread among six players, headed by Kelly Johnson and Brittani Steinberg with nine apiece. Kendal Pollan handed out 23 assists and was aided by Johnson's 17 assists and two aces. A powerful offense was backed up by tenacious defense, as Maddie Rudnick had 14 digs to pace a group of four in double digits and McHaney Carter posted four block assists to give the hosts 10 blocks on the evening.

Brown hung within five points throughout the first set, rattling off four straight while facing match point before falling, 25-22. Yale's aggressive approach led to 17 kills on a rapid-fire 49 attacks, narrowly exceeding Brown's 48 attempts in a shoot-from-the-hip offensive spree.

The Bulldogs looked unstoppable in set two and rolled to a 25-13 win on the strength of 11 kills while taking advantage of Brown's sputtering offense. The Bears made seven errors to their five kills and struggled to find rhythm amidst the tough Yale attack. Rieckhoff accounted for Brown's only kill early on as Yale errors kept the Bears within a 10-9 margin and a pair of kills by Derrough slowed a streaking Bulldogs offense, but Jesse Ebner dealt consecutive aces to give her squad the momentum to close the set.

The Bears played their best volleyball of the match during the early parts of set three to build a 5-2 lead on strong service from Rieckhoff and freshman Carly Wagenbach (Hermosa Beach, Calif.). Neither team maintained sustained possession until Ebner's turn to serve, when she once again fronted a Yale to lift the hosts to a 13-10 lead. Senior Amanda Nickel (Corona Del Mar, Calif.) registered a kill and Smith followed with an ace to shrink a Bulldogs lead to 19-18, but Ebner and Johnson teamed up to take six of the final seven points.

Brown returns to action on Wednesday with a non-conference match at Rhode Island at 7 p.m.