PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Senior Thea Derrough (La Jolla, Calif.) crushed a career-high 20 kills to lead the Brown volleyball team to its second five-set win in as many days with a 3-2 victory over Harvard (25-22, 19-25, 22-25, 25-21, 15-10) in Ivy League action at the Pizzitola Sports Center on Saturday. The Bears improve to 6-8 overall and 2-1 in Ancient Eight play while the Crimson fall to 6-6 on the season and 1-2 in the Ivy League.
Junior Maddie Lord (La Jolla, Calif.) reached double-digit kills for the fourth time this season with 15, while senior Amanda Nickel (Corona Del Mar, Calif.) had 11 to total 44 over the last three matches. Junior Maryl Vanden Bos (Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.) recorded a team-best 24 assists with help from sophomore Rachele Killian's (Laguna Beach, Calif.) 17 and freshman Sarah Lucenti's (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) 15. Senior Alexandra Rieckhoff (Laguna Beach, Calif.) hustled for 17 digs, while Lord made her presence known at the net with four blocks.
For Harvard, Corinne Bain led the way with 15 kills and Caroline Holte finished with 13. Bain also created opportunities with 33 assists, and Natalie Doyle paced a group of four double-digit bumpers with 16.
Brown maintained a steady lead throughout the first set and worked around six serving errors thanks to a .317 hitting clip and balanced attacking. Everyone pitched in with four players contributing three kills each and eight players registering at least one dig. The Crimson rallied with three unanswered points to pull within two (22-20), but Nickel and Rieckhoff rattled off kills to grab the 25th point.
The visitors refocused and swung at a .424 pace in the second set thanks largely to Bain's seven kills in nine attempts. Harvard pulled away from a 7-7 tie to make it 17-12 midway through, and the Bears could not garner the momentum to overcome the hot-hitting Crimson in a 25-19 result.
Harvard picked up right where it left off in set three and stormed out to a 4-0 lead after a pair of kills by Kristen Casey. Brown faced a disadvantage as large as six, but late persistence by Lord and Derrough helped the hosts work a 5-1 rally to turn a 23-17 game into a 24-22 score. Holt extinguished the Brown comeback with a kill, however, and put her team up 2-1 heading into set four.
The Bears had their work cut out for them and grinded all the way to a 16-16 tie while needing two sets to win, but Derrough did not disappoint with another six kills to keep the match alive. Killian caught Harvard off guard with a stealthy dump shot to give Brown a 17-16 lead, and although the Crimson pushed two more ties, Killian's point marked a key momentum shift and helped find the hosts up 23-20 to provoke a Harvard timeout. Two miscues by the visitors sealed the set and forced a fifth game.
Derrough and Lord teamed up to take control in the winner-take-all set with four kills each, including Derrough's 20th that marked a 15-10 win for Brown. The Bears never trailed and led for the duration beyond a 5-5 tie thanks to 13 hard-fought digs and no service errors. Lord's second ace of the match gave Brown a 12-10 lead, freshman Payton Smith (Atherton, Calif.) punched her fifth kill and Derrough followed a Harvard error with an authoritative spike to secure the win.
Brown continues its home stand next Friday when the Bears host Princeton in Ivy League action at 7 p.m.