History Made! Princeton Rallies From 0-3 Hole, Shares 15th Ivy League Title
The climb out of an 0-3 hole was long and arduous — not to mention unprecedented — but it was completely worth it. The Tiger women's volleyball team brought a 15th Ivy League championship to Dillon Gym Saturday night by holding off a feisty Columbia team in a heartstopping 25-16, 19-25, 29-27, 26-24 victory in New York City.
The Princeton win, combined with Harvard's 3-1 win at Brown, gives both teams a share of the Ivy League title. The two teams will play a one-match playoff for the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament next weekend at Harvard, which won the tiebreaker. Dartmouth nearly made it a three-team championship, but Yale won a 15-13 thriller in the fifth set to eliminate the Big Green.
The exact date and time of the Harvard-Princeton playoff will be announced later.
Princeton earned the right to play for the automatic bid after winning two of the wildest sets of the season. After both teams split convincing wins in the opening two sets, Princeton held a 23-16 victory in the third and seemed in cruise control for a 2-1 lead. Instead, Columbia won eight of the next nine points to even the set at 24-24.
The Tigers regrouped and continued to side out, which kept Columbia from earning a set point. A combo block by Cara Mattaliano and Nnenna Ibe gave Princeton a 28-27 lead, and a kill by Kendall Peterkin closed the 29-27 win.
A block on a Peterkin swing gave Columbia a set ball in the fourth, but Mattaliano fought it off with a kill, and then earned Princeton a championship ball with a service ace. The freshman duo of Claire Nussbaum and Nnenna Ibe came together to win it, as a quick middle set by Nussbaum, the two-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week, was put down by Nussbaum for the win.
Mattaliano had the match of her career in the most important spot. She produced the first 20-20 match of her All-Ivy career; her 21 kills tied an all-time best, while her 25 digs was second-most of her career.
Princeton got huge play from its middles, as Ibe and Brittany Ptak combined for 24 kills and eight blocks, and both hit at least .440 in the match. The senior duo of Peterkin (12 kills, 14 digs, 4 blocks) and Sarah Daschbach (20 digs, 3 assists, 2 aces) also had big performances to make sure they would end their Tiger careers with Ivy League titles.
Nussbaum had 55 assists and helped Princeton hit .236, while sophomore Kelly Matthews added seven digs, three blocks, two kills and two aces in the win.