Due to an injury-riddled preseason, All-Ivy outside Lydia Rudnick wasn't fully in form for the start of the 2011 Ivy season. When the moment mattered most, though, Rudnick and fellow All-Ivy standout Cathryn Quinn were unstoppable. The pair combined for 46 kills to lead Princeton to a 3-1 victory over previously unbeaten Yale to move into a share for first place.
Princeton defeated Yale 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-20, 25-20) to improve to 5-1 in the Ivy League and move into a first-place tie with both Columbia and Yale. Through six matches, each team has gone unblemished against the rest of the league and has won at home against a fellow first-place team: Yale has beaten Columbia in New Haven, Columbia defeated Princeton in New York and Princeton closed the triange by beating Yale in Dillon Gym.
Rudnick had her best match of the season, recording 25 kills, 14 digs and hitting .434 in the win. She made only two errors in the match, and she had eight kills in the momentum-clinching third set. Quinn, who leads the Ivy League in total points and has had her best season to date, added 21 kills, two assists and a block.
"The whole team played with so much fire against an extremely athletic Yale squad," head coach Sabrina King said. "Lydia was unstoppable and our defense was better than it has been all year."
While the Rudnick-Quinn duo led Princeton, there were several other important performances for the Tigers. Freshman Ginny Willis recorded 53 assists and helped Princeton to a solid .268 attack percentage. Classmate Sarah Hanna added six kills, including one on match ball, while junior Jennifer Palmquist added five kills and two blocks. Freshman Tiana Woolridge led Princeton with four blocks, while senior Hillary Ford had a match-best 21 digs.
Quinn helped Princeton get out to a 1-0 lead with strong play late in the first set. Tied at 22, Quinn recorded two kills in the final four points to help Princeton to the 25-23 win. Yale held off a Princeton rally in the second, and it tried to take control of the match when it jumped out to a 13-9 lead in the third. Princeton needed a run, and it was started by two straight Rudnick kills. A combo block by Woolridge and Palmquist and a hitting error evened the score at 13, and consecutive kills by Hanna and Rudnick put Princeton ahead 16-15.
Princeton never trailed from there, taking the third set 25-20 and going wire-to-wire to win the fourth 25-20.
Princeton will try to stay in first place Saturday afternoon when it hosts Brown at 4 p.m. It will be Princeton's final home match for three weeks; the Tigers play their next five Ivy matches on the road, beginning with a showdown against Penn at The Palestra next weekend.