The team that once couldn't find a fifth-set answer now stands atop the Ivy League because it has won twice on the road in five-set thrillers. The Princeton women's volleyball team will try to hold that position this weekend when it hosts Columbia and Cornell in its first home Ivy League matches.
LINKS: Live Video l Live Stats l Standings l Coach King on TigerCast l Rudnick Wins Player Of the Week
Princeton and Yale are currently tied atop the Ivy standings with matching 3-0 records, while Columbia is only one match off the pace at 2-1. Yale, which has played its first three Ivy matches on the road, will continue its long road trip this weekend with matches at Dartmouth and Harvard.
While Princeton has gotten exceptional play once again from All-Ivy outside Lydia Rudnick (more on her later), the Tigers have won three straight Ivy road matches while playing as many as five underclassmen much of the time. Sophomore Tiana Woolridge is playing the best volleyball of her career recently, and she has teamed up with classmate Nicole Kincade to provide a strong 1-2 punch at the middle blocker spot.
Sophomore Ginny Willis currently leads the Ivy League in assists with 10.34 per set, more than a whole assist better than anybody in the league. Willis was a second-team All-Ivy League selection last season, and head coach Sabrina King praised her work during this week's edition of TigerCast (see link above).
Freshmen Sarah Daschbach and Kendall Peterkin have both earned starting roles, and both have excelled. Peterkin, who started at the rightside spot last weekend, ranks second in the Ivies with 3.2 kills and third in points with 3.6 per set. Daschbach took over for the graduated Hillary Ford at libero and leads the team with 4.2 per set.
Rudnick, the Ivy League leader in kills (4.2) and points (4.7), was just named the Ivy League Player of the Week after leading the Tigers to a road sweep. She had 25 kills in the victory over Harvard, and her total currently ranks among the Top 40 nationally.
Columbia, which could be in a first-place tie Friday with a win and a Yale road loss, has the two most efficient hitters in the league. Heather Braunagel leads the Ivy League with a .407 attack percentage, while teammate Savannah Fletcher ranks second with a .396 percentage.
Cornell, which is 1-2 in Ivy play, has been led by sophomore setter Kelly Reinke, who is second to Willis in assists this season with 9.3 per game.