The fifth time was the charm, and it couldn't have come at a better time. After four heartbreakingly close 3-2 losses this season, all of which were decided by a grand total of nine points, the Princeton women's volleyball team picked the perfect time to win its first marathon match. The Tigers rallied from a 2-1 deficit to stun Penn at the Palestra in the opening match of the 2012 Ivy League season.
Two-time first-team All-Ivy League honoree Lydia Rudnick has a history of performing at her best on the biggest stage, and she did so again Saturday night. She recorded 25 kills with only five errors and had 14 digs to lead the Tigers to a 26-28, 25-22, 14-25, 25-23, 15-13 victory.
Freshman Kendall Peterkin, who returned from injury to make her Ivy League debut, added 15 kills on 50 swings, while middles Leah Jordan and Tiana Woolridge both added 10 blocks apiece. It was an especially strong performance for Woolridge, who started for the injured Nicole Kincade and added six blocks while hitting a team-best .360.
"Lydia played lights out tonight," said head coach Sabrina King. "We got some nice production out of our middles. It was also the best I've seen us play defensively all year."
Princeton had 112 digs in the match against the defensive-oriented Quakers, who lead the Ivy League in digs by a wide margin. Sophomore Ginny Willis, who was also coming back from an injury, led the team with 29 digs and 59 assists; she took control of the team when it needed it most, and helped Princeton to its two most effective hitting sets when the Tigers' backs were against the wall.
Freshman Sarah Daschbach added 26 digs, while junior Christine Renschler added 17 and Sydney Brombal had 13.
Princeton will return to the road for the always-challenging Harvard-Dartmouth trip this coming weekend. King knows that, while this win is a terrific way to start the Ivy League season, there are many more challenges still to come.
"We can still play a lot better," she said, "but any win on the road is huge."