PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The senior class combined for 27 kills and fittingly powered the Brown volleyball team to a 3-0 win (25-18, 25-22, 25-23) over Columbia in Ivy League action on Senior Night at the Pizzitola Sports Center on Saturday. The Bears stand at 11-12 overall and 7-5 in league play, leaving the team one victory away from its first 12-win season since 2008 and in position to post its first winning Ivy League record since 2005.
Seniors Thea Derrough (La Jolla, Calif.), Amanda Nickel (Corona Del Mar, Calif.) and Alexandra Rieckhoff (Laguna Beach, Calif.) were honored during postgame ceremonies after they completed their final home match at the Pizzitola Sports Center. Rieckhoff tallied her fourth double-double of the year with 10 kills and 15 digs, Nickel added 11 kills to total 29 for the weekend and Derrough finished with six kills and two block assists.
Junior Maddie Lord (La Jolla, Calif.) struck for a team-best 15 kills on a .353 hitting percentage, her third-highest mark of the season when recording double-digit kills. The team's leading attacker extended her streak to three straight matches with at least 10 kills and now has 10 double-figure kill performances on the season.
Junior Maryl Vanden Bos (Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.) led Brown with 21 assists and freshman Sarah Lucenti (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) dealt 18 helpers, while the Bears recorded 67 digs – their highest of the year in a three set affair – to limit the Lions to a .167 attack percentage. Junior Kathryn Conner (Newport Beach, Calif.) led the back row with 16 digs and Vanden Bos tallied a double-double with 10 bumps.
For Columbia, Bailey Springer notched a match-high 16 kills and doubled up with 10 digs, while Jennifer Petrovich paced all setters with 29 assists.
Lord and Rieckhoff picked up where they left off last night and blasted five kills each in the opening frame. After Brown fumbled an early lead, sophomore Shannon Frost (Santa Ana, Calif.) stretched for three of her seven digs to preserve a long rally and allow Rieckhoff to earn a kill on a touch, pushing the Bears ahead 11-10.
Columbia's Alex Reale found herself camping out for a handful of freebies in the middle, but back-to-back errors on over balls gave Brown an 18-13 lead. Nickel blasted two straight kills to lift the hosts to 20, and Lord followed with a soft shot after a pinball rally to make it 22-13. The Bears' back row battled to subdue a rallying Columbia attack, but the visitors stayed aggressive and worked a 4-0 run while facing set point, 24-17. After a Brown timeout, Rieckhoff caught a set on the left side and showed great patience, allowing the Lion blockers to drop before punching a shot to the right to win the set.
Springer forced Columbia out to a slim lead in set two, but the Bears made a living off of Rieckhoff's dig-and-attack approach to knot things at 7-7. Kesi Neblett used a dump shot to make things 9-9, but Vanden Bos and Rieckhoff dug the Lion attacks tirelessly and set up Nickel for a spike that pushed the score to 14-11. Columbia's back row would not be outdone, however, and Cassie Wes earned all 21 of her digs, several of which came on typically-high percentage attacks in the middle from freshman Payton Smith (Atherton, Calif.).
Wes's digging helped disrupt the Brown formation and the Lions suddenly found the hosts out of position several rallies in a row, resulting in a handling error that let Columbia sneak back within two, 22-20. The Bears made due, however, and another scramble after a dig left Lord in charge to make a rare set, allowing her to pick up just her 10th assist of the year on a blast from Rieckhoff that capped the frame, 25-22.
Columbia threatened to spoil the shutout when the Lions raced to a 4-0 third set lead on a Wes ace and Brown attack error. Derrough and Smith teamed up for a block to snap the streak, but Columbia answered with its own block to go up 6-1 and force a Brown timeout. The Lions found success in long rallies and worked to tire the Bears' attackers, who struggled to get power on their second and third attempts. Brown blocking shifted the momentum again, however, and Smith and Nickel reached up to cut the Lions' lead to 12-9. An exchange of service errors found the visitors up 15-11, but junior Taylor Bantle (Pacific Palisades, Calif.) and Nickel sprung for back-to-back blocks to suddenly slice the deficit to one, 17-16.
A Lord kill and a Columbia error tied things at 19-19, and Rieckhoff used a free ball to set up a give-and-go with Vanden Bos that finally shoved Brown ahead, 20-19. Rieckhoff sealed the double-double with her 10th kill that ended a fierce rally and Smith followed suit for a 22-19 score. Lucy Tilton kept the Lions alive with a point on a sideline shot from a tough angle, and the ensuing Bears handling error tightened the score to 22-21. Rieckhoff rose high above the left side to pick up a solo block and force match point, but Springer countered with consecutive kills to make it 24-23. A Columbia serve that sailed out of bounds wrapped things up by a score of 25-23.
The Bears close out the regular season next weekend when they travel to Penn on Friday at 7 p.m. and Princeton on Saturday at 5 p.m.