The Princeton women's volleyball team took care of business in the first half of its Ivy League season, winning six of seven matches to share first place with Yale. The Tigers will open the second half with a Friday night road match against one of its biggest rivals, Penn.
Playing one match during an Ivy League weekend is something of a rarity for the Tigers, but this is likely the perfect time for it. After all, the last three Princeton-Penn matches have been marathon efforts that feel like two matches in one night.
Princeton opened its 2011 Ivy League season with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Penn in Dillon Gym. Princeton trailed 1-0 and 2-1 in the match, but a 15-kill, eight-block showing from senior middle Cathryn Quinn helped the Tigers knock off the 2010 Ivy champs 15-9 in the fifth set. Quinn earned Ivy League Player of the Week honors after the match, while junior Lydia Rudnick earned the honor this past week after she recorded 25 kills with only two errors, hit .424 for the match and added 14 digs in a 3-1 win over formerly unbeaten Yale. The next day, she recorded 16 kills and 10 digs in a 3-0 win over Brown.
Princeton has also claimed three of four Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors since league play began. Freshman setter Ginny Willis has taken the honor twice, including after a 48-assist, 10-dig performance against Penn.
Both the Tigers and the Yale Bulldogs went 6-1 during the first half of the Ivy League season, though each played five of their first seven at home. Yale travels to Brown Saturday night; the two teams won't play again until Nov. 5.
Penn is 6-11, 2-5 in the Ivy League. Last season featured a pair of wild 3-2 matches between the two local rivals. In the opener at The Palestra, Princeton dropped the first two games before winning a tight 25-23 third set. The Tigers carried that momentum throughout and, led by Lydia Rudnick's 26 kills, stunned the Quakers with a 3-2 win.
Penn turned the tables in the finale in a match that simply couldn't have been closer. Penn fought off four match balls and got double-digit kills from four different players in a 25-22, 25-27, 24-26, 29-27, 16-14 victory that clinched a share of the Ivy League title at Dillon Gym.