It isn't often when you find Penn and Princeton rooting for each other on the volleyball court. But the two local rivals will look to help themselves, and each other, when both Ivy League frontrunner Yale and Brown come to town for Princeton's final home weekend of the Ivy League season.
Though there are still four matches remaining in the Ivy League season, only three teams are still mathematically in the race. Reigning champion Yale has been the frontrunner all season, and it will head to the Palestra Friday night with a 10-0 Ivy record. The Bulldogs can eliminate third-place Penn (7-3 Ivy) with a win that night; the Quakers, winners of three straight, could affect the race in a major way with a win.
Regardless of the outcome at Penn, Princeton (8-2) will still be in the race by Senior Night, when the Tigers host Yale at 5 pm on Nov. 3. Exactly how alive they are in the race will depend on Princeton's success Friday night against Brown (2-8).
Princeton is two matches back of Yale. Should it defeat Brown, as it did 3-0 earlier this season in Providence, Princeton will be no worse than two back of Yale with three to play. If both Princeton and Penn win Friday, then the Tigers would have a shot to share first place with Yale when the two teams meet Saturday.
And if Princeton loses Friday, and Yale wins at Penn? Then all margin for error is gone.
Princeton kept itself in position in the Ivy League race with 3-0 home wins over both Harvard and Dartmouth last weekend. Freshman Kendall Peterkin was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week after the two victories; she averaged 3.7 kills per set and hit .354 to pace an efficient Tiger offense. She hit .435 with 12 kills and only two errors against a Crimson team that pushed the Tigers to five sets earlier this season. She also recorded a double-double (10 kills, 10 digs) in the victory over Dartmouth.
The Tigers come into the weekend with the top two players in both kills and points (Lydia Rudnick and Peterkin), the Ivy League leader in assists (Ginny Willis) and two of the Ivy's top three in hitting percentage (Leah Jordan and Tiana Woolridge). Yale, however, ranks first as a team in hitting percentage, opponent's hitting percentage, assists and kills.
The first meeting between Princeton and Yale turned late in the second set. The Tigers took the opener off Yale in New Haven, and they led 21-19 in the second set. Yale rallied to take the set and turned that momentum into a big early run in the third. Princeton battled back, but Yale held off the Tigers for the 3-1 win.
That match gave Yale sole possession of first place.
On Saturday night, Princeton is hoping to share it once again.