When the Princeton women's volleyball team takes the court this weekend, it hopes Dillon Gym takes on a shade of pink. This is "Dig Pink" weekend, which is part of a national campaign by volleyball programs to raise both awareness and funds in the battle against breast cancer. For the first-place Tigers, it is also a chance to maintain their recent success in league play.
Princeton is 8-6 overall, 3-0 in Ivy League play, and comes into the weekend riding a four-match win streak. The Tigers have rallied from early deficits in each of their Ivy matches, including an 0-2 hole at Penn, but they now own victories over each of the last two league champions (Yale in 2008, Penn in 2009). Statistically, Princeton ranks near the middle of the Ivy pack in every category, but it has been its play in big moments that has driven the Tigers to the top of the rankings.
Of course, there are several individuals who rank among the Ivy's best. Two-time Ivy League Player of the Week Lydia Rudnick ranks first in the league in kills (4.12), while junior middle Cathryn Quinn ranks seventh in blocks (.89). Fellow junior Michaela Venuti, who has started each of Princeton's last four wins, ranks sixth in the league in assists (7.62).
The Tigers host Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend, beginning with a 7 p.m. showdown Friday night with the Crimson. Harvard is 2-2 in Ivy play, though it swept Cornell and Columbia last weekend. Teresa Skelly was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week after totaling 11 blocks and 13 kills over the two matches, while Taylor Docter led all Harvard hitters against Cornell, totaling 13 kills and hitting .314 for the match. Skelly ranks second in the Ivy League with a .333 attack percentage.
Dartmouth comes into the weekend with a 3-1 record, second best in the Ivy League, and has been led by Madeline Baird, who ranks just behind Rudnick with 3.91 kills per set. Junior Amber Bryant is in a tight race for the Ivy League digs title; she averages just below 5.6 digs per set.
The Big Green will open its weekend at Penn in a battle of two teams with one-loss records, meaning Dartmouth could be playing for first place on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.