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Big Green Rally to Top Cornell for First Ivy League Win

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By John and Matt Risley

HANOVER, N.H. – After falling behind 2-0, the Dartmouth women’s volleyball team rallied to take the next three sets to defeat Cornell on Saturday afternoon in Ivy League action inside Leede Arena.

It was a day of firsts for the Big Green (8-9, 1-4 Ivy League) as the team notched its first conference win of the season. For the first time since 2011, the team from the Upper Valley topped the Big Red (5-9, 2-3 Ivy League) and the triumph also snapped a six-match losing streak for Dartmouth.

After surrendering the first point to Cornell in the decisive fifth set, Dartmouth reeled off six straight points. Later, a Paige Caridi kill gave the Big Green a 10-6 lead before the Big Red went on a 4-0 run to tie the game at 10. Each team scored back-to-back points and Dartmouth finished the set by scoring the final three points as a kill from Elisa Scudder put the exclamation point on the victory.

The two teams traded blows early as both Cornell and Dartmouth held leads of at least three in the first set. The Big Green came out fast scoring the match’s first point on a kill from freshman Emily Astarita. From there, the Green and White held the lead until an ace from Breanna Wong tied the game at 19. Dartmouth led throughout set, but could not put Cornell away as the Big Red ended on a 6-3 run to take the 1-0 advantage. 

Cornell started the second set on 6-2 run and never looked back as they led throughout. The Big Red controlled the ball well during the game and picked their spots on the attack, registering 16 kills. The Big Green defense did their best to keep them in the game as they produced 25 digs. Dartmouth battled throughout the set, pulling to within two at 22-20 thanks to a kill by freshman Molly Kornfeind. Cornell responded scoring the set's last three points to take the commanding 2-0 advantage.

In the third set, the momentum began to shift in favor of the Big Green. After surrendering the first point of the set, Dartmouth would answer and not give up their lead. The closest Cornell came was within one when a Dartmouth service error made it 11-10. The strong play by the Big Green during the set woke up the crowd and gave the team the home court advantage they’ve been searching for all season.

The Big Green blew open the fourth set when they went on scoring streaks of five and six. With the score knotted at seven, Dartmouth netted 11 of the next 13 points to take the wind out of Cornell’s sails and tie the game at two all.

Offensively, the Big Green had a balanced attack as six players had at least eight kills. Kornfeind led the way with a match-best 17 kills as Paige Caridi added 12 and senior co-captain Elisa Scudder had 11. Freshman Stacey Benton continues to impress at the setter position, dishing out a career high 57 assists.

On the defensive end, both Kaira Lujan and Danielle Glinka had two solo blocks. Scudder continued to be a force at the net, registering a pair of block assists while Benton had a match-high 22 digs. Freshman Julia Lau added 15 digs while Glinka and Kornfeind had 14 apiece.

With the win, the Big Green improve to 1-3 in five set matches in 2013. Dartmouth netted its first league victory since the season opener a year ago versus Harvard. The Green and White had 10 or more kills in each of the five sets.

Dartmouth returns to the court next weekend, Oct. 18-19, traveling to face Princeton and Penn in Ivy League action. The contest with the Tigers is set for Friday at 7 p.m. and the tilt with the Quakers gets started Saturday at 5 p.m.