PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Junior Maddie Lord (La Jolla, Calif.) smashed 18 kills to fuel a Bears offense that posted a season-high 69 kills on their second-best hitting percentage (.295) of the season as the Brown volleyball team topped Dartmouth in five sets (20-25, 25-23, 25-22, 22-25, 16-14) in Ivy League action at the Pizzitola Sports Center on Friday. Brown moves to 5-8 overall and 1-1 in Ancient Eight play, while the Big Green drops to 7-7 on the season and 0-2 in league competition.
Lord paced a pack of four Brown players with double-digit kills including senior Amanda Nickel (Corona Del Mar, Calif.), who recorded 16 kills on a focused .400 hitting percentage to nearly match her 17 kills from Wednesday's effort. Senior Thea Derrough (La Jola, Calif.) finished with 12 kills and classmate Alexandra Rieckhoff (Laguna Beach, Calif.) added 10.
Junior setter Maryl Vanden Bos (Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.) dealt a career-high 34 assists on the night and freshman Sarah Lucenti's (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) 25 assists also exceeded her career best and marked her third match with over 20 assists this season. Rieckhoff upheld the Bears defense with 18 digs and Derrough, junior Taylor Bantle (Pacific Palisades, Calif.) and freshman Payton Smith (Atherton, Calif.) combined for 14 of Brown's 16 blocks.
For Dartmouth, balanced attacking saw Molly Kornfeind lead the way with 12 kills and three others finish with 11 apiece. Stacey Benton paced the Big Green with 33 assists and 11 digs, while Kaira Lujan had a hand in five blocks, including a solo act.
The most lopsided set of an air-tight match was the first one that saw Dartmouth build an 11-5 lead and never relent. Brown struggled to threaten for points with only 19 attack attempts as the Big Green effectively kept the ball away from Derrough and Smith. The Bears managed to tie the game at 14-14 but fumbled possession on back-to-back setting errors that shifted enough momentum to the visitor's side to allow Dartmouth to run away with the set.
Brown turned up the heat in the second set and pumped out 33 attacks at a .333 clip to edge the Big Green, 25-23. Never leading by more than three but trailing by three in the late going, the Bears used a Nickel kill and three straight Dartmouth errors to force a four point swing. Derrough and Nickel traded points and a rotation error bumped Brown to 25 to tie the match at 1-1.
Lord caught fire in set three and crushed seven kills as Brown never trailed. Dartmouth cut the deficit to one on five occasions before finally knotting the score at 22-22 on a déjà vu moment of consecutive mishandled sets, but a Rieckhoff kill, Big Green miscue and Lucenti ace quickly nabbed the final three points for Brown.
The Bears seemed intent on closing the match in four and the Big Green had no plans of going home in a staggeringly even fourth set. Lord's five kills and Smith's three aces helped Brown maintain intensity despite hitting .206 to Dartmouth's .312 mark, but Kornfeind took control for the Big Green and found the empty floor space to power a set-closing 5-2 run.
The deciding set came down to net control, as Bantle and Derrough teamed up for consecutive blocks for an early 3-2 lead and later on Bantle and Nickel joined forces for a crucial block that snapped a 14-14 tie. A Big Green error prompted a timeout as the visitors faced game point, and Lord's topspin serve put Vanden Bos in position to set up Nickel for the final kill.
Brown dives back into Ivy League action tomorrow when the Bears host Harvard at 5 p.m.