The women’s volleyball team will play Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend in hopes of continuing their five-game winning streak.
After sweeping the Rutgers Tournament in mid-September followed by a hard-fought 3-2 victory against the Penn Quakers in their opening game of the Ivy League last week, the Princeton Tigers (7-3, 1-0 Ivy League) will take on the Crimson (3-7, 1-0 Ivy League) and the Big Green (6-5, 0-1 Ivy League) at home on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, respectively.
Having clinched the Ivy League title in the past season, the 2016-17 squad is eyeing not only another victory in the league, but also a spot in the NCAA. With this ambitious goal in mind, securing two victories in this week’s games will be crucial in fueling the team’s current form and spirit.
Claiming five victories in the past five games, the Tigers are in excellent condition heading into the weekend. In particular, Princeton currently boasts a menacing offense, with senior co-captains Cara Matalliano and Brittany Ptak holding the first and second place in the conference’s individual kills per set record with 3.35 and 3.29, respectively.
Ptak was also named Ivy League player of the week following a breathtaking performance last week in Philadelphia. After a career-best performance with 21 kills and an astounding .625 hitting average, Ptak is expected be a crucial factor in this weekend’s upcoming games as well.
In addition to veteran Tigers, freshman Maggie O’Connell has also displayed stellar performance thus far in the season. O’Connell not only holds the Ivy League’s second-highest hitting average (.411), but also scored 18 kills in her last match against the Quakers.
The Crimson — as reigning co-champion of last year’s Ivy League — also has a lot on stake. Having won the Ivy League title for the past two years, Harvard is hoping to remedy its shaky 3-7 season start in order to clinch a third consecutive league title.
In its 3-0 victory against Dartmouth last week, Harvard displayed a composed balance between offense and defense. As Harvard’s Paige Kebe led the team with 11 kills in just three sets, Isabelle Tashima held the back line with 10 digs.
The match between last season’s co-champions will be played in Dillon Gymnasium at 7 p.m. on Friday.
On Saturday, Princeton will play game three of its Ivy League season against Dartmouth. Although the Big Green has faced defeat in the past four games, the Tigers must be wary of players like the Dartmouth co-captain Emily Astarita, who not only achieved a stunning kills per set record (3.92) in the 2015-2016 season (first in Ivy), but she also currently leads the Green’s offence with over a quarter of its kills.
Although the Tigers have exhibited a near-perfect start to their new season, they will need to clinch these two vital victories to keep their momentum.