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Volleyball Shocks Yale, 3-2, in Final Match of the Season

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Dartmouth celebrates after beating Yale.     By Mark Washburn
HANOVER, N.H. — Five-set matches have not been kind to the Dartmouth volleyball team this season, but that all changed on Saturday at Leede Arena when the Big Green toppled Yale, 3-2 (26-24, 18-25, 26-24, 20-25, 15-10).

The Bulldogs entered the contest already having clinched the Ivy League championship, but that didn't stop Dartmouth from handing Yale its second conference loss. The win moved the Big Green to 16-9 overall and 8-6 in the Ivy League. Yale dropped to 18-6 and 12-2 in the league.

After the team's split the first four sets it came down to the deciding fifth. Despite losing the fourth set, the Big Green jumped out to an early lead in the set. Senior Madeline Baird (Austin, Texas) found a hole in the Yale defense with an ace to open play.

The Big Green then ripped off five straight points to push the lead to 6-0 on a kill by Baird, a kill by freshman Lucia Pohlman (Mill Valley, Calif.), a combined block by freshman Alex Schoenberger (Corte Madera, Calif.) and sophomore Elisa Scudder (Ashburn, Va.), and two more kills by Schoenberger. Senior Amber Bryant (Libertyville, Ill.) made the run possible by making spectacular dig after spectacular did to stifle the Bulldog attack.

Yale worked its way back into the set and cut the lead to 13-10 on kills by Erica Reetz late in the fifth. Dartmouth responded and ended the set, 15-13, on two kills by Pohlman.

The Big Green had four players with 10-plus kills. Baird led the way with 17 kills and 11 digs. Schoenberger totaled 16 kills, senior Annie Villanueva (Santa Barbara, Calif.) recorded 15 kills on a .480 hitting percentage and Pohlman had 12 kills, six assists and 13 digs. Senior Kendall Houston (Austin, Texas) finished the final match of her career with 55 assists and 13 digs. Bryant ended her run with the Big Green with 19 digs.

The Big Green squeaked out both the first and the third sets, 26-24, in the extremely tight match. Yale took the second, 25-18, and the fourth, 25-20.

In the third set, Scudder was part of a combined block, which gave her the single-season blocking record at Dartmouth. She finished the contest with one block solo and five block assists. For the season, the middle blocker tallied 85 blocks (two block solo and 83 block assists). Andrea Sea '03 previously held the record with 80 total blocks (18 solo and 62 assists) in 2001. Scudder now has two of the top six single-season block totals.

Scudder wasn't the only Big Green athlete to break a record on Saturday; Villanueva set the Dartmouth single-season hitting percentage record and the career hitting percentage mark. For the year, the middle blocker finished hitting .372 (259 kills, 52 errors and 557 total attempts). Danra Kazenski '99 previously held the record at .347 (244 kills, 56 errors and 548 total attempts) in 1998. For her career, Villanueva hit .290 (658 kills, 190 errors and 1,615 total attempts). She crushed the previous record held by Felicity Kolp '99 of .281 (304K, 77E and 804 total attempts).

The 16 wins marked the most for the Big Green since the 1999 season when the team went 16-15. The last time Dartmouth had more than 16 wins in a season was in 1998 when the squad went 19-8.  The last time Dartmouth won eight matches in the Ivy League was in 2007. The Big Green has never won more than eight contests in the Ancient Eight.

This season, Dartmouth finished fourth in the conference behind Yale, Princeton and Penn. It marked the best finish for the Big Green since they placed fourth in 2007. The contest also marked the final match for the four Dartmouth seniors: Baird, Bryant, Houston and Villanueva.