Lord Lifts Volleyball to Second Place with 3-2 Win over Penn

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Junior Maddie Lord (La Jolla, Calif.) notched a double-double with a match-high 16 kills and 13 digs to boost the Brown volleyball team to a 3-2 win (23-25, 17-25, 25-16, 25-22, 15-13) over Penn and sling the Bears into a three-way tie for second place in the Ivy League standings with Harvard and the Quakers.

Brown's come-from-behind victory snaps Penn's six-match win streak and lifts the Bears to 12-12 overall and 8-5 in Ivy League play. The triumph ensures Brown will finish above .500 in the Ivy League for the first time since going 9-5 in 2005 and gives the Bears their first 12-win season since 2008. If Brown tops Princeton, Harvard falls to Cornell and Penn surrenders to league-leading Yale in tomorrow's regular season finale, Brown will seize sole possession of second place in the Ancient Eight.

Senior Amanda Nickel (Corona Del Mar, Calif.) cracked 15 kills for her third consecutive match with double-digit kills, while classmate Thea Derrough (La Jolla, Calif.) finished with 11 kills and added seven digs. Junior Maryl Vanden Bos (Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.) paced Brown with 28 assists and sophomore Rachele Killian (Laguna Beach, Calif.) added 18, and junior libero Kathryn Conner (Newport Beach, Calif.) worked for a team-high 21 digs. Senior Alexandra Rieckhoff (Laguna Beach, Calif.) barely missed a double-double with nine kills and 19 digs in the winning effort.

For Penn, Kristen Etterbeek logged a double-double on 16 kills and 11 digs, while Alexis Genske joined her with 14 kills and 15 digs. Ronnie Bither added to the double-double list with 25 assists and 14 digs, and Dani Shepherd finished with a match-high 27 digs.

Brown squandered a late lead in the opening set as a go-ahead kill by Nickel put the Bears up 23-22, only to have the Quakers take three straight points. The visitors battled back after a 15-13 advantage disappeared on four straight attack errors, using a pair of Penn miscues and two kills each by Rieckhoff and Nickel to jump ahead, 22-21.

The Quakers took set two more handily and never led by less than five after reaching the 15-point mark. A service error by the Bears grew the Penn lead to 19-11 but Nickel and junior Taylor Bantle (Pacific Palisades, Calif.) strung together kills to sneak back within five, 20-15. Much like the first set, Penn mounted a 3-0 run to close the set, 25-17.

Reinvigorated while facing elimination, the Bears rushed out to a 5-0 lead on three straight Lord kills and grew the lead to double figures, 15-5, on a Conner ace. Brown reached the 20-point plateau on a Quaker attach error and Derrough, Lord and Nickel teamed up to rake in the remaining points in a 25-16 win.

The Bears opened set four in near-identical fashion, building a 5-0 lead on sharp Lord attacking. Penn rallied back to tie things at 14-14 and each side scraped its way to the 20-point mark. A Brown miscue sent the ball to the Quakers' court while facing set point, but Rieckhoff delivered the winning kill for a 25-22 decision.

A back-and-forth affair told the story of set five as a Quaker error got Brown to the 8-point mark first, but Genske notched a kill to tie things at 8-8. Rieckhoff and Derrough worked a one-two punch to go up 12-10 and freshman Payton Smith (Atheron, Calif.) smacked an ace to push the score to 13-10. Penn's attack error spelled match point and Lord sealed the deal with the contest's final kill for a 15-13 final set.

Brown closes out the regular season tomorrow at Princeton for an Ivy League showdown at 5 p.m.