This weekend, the volleyball team (15-5, 6-4 Ivy) split its road games with a win against UPenn (3-17, 1-9) and a loss against Princeton (10-8, 7-3). Despite suffering two losses in their games against Princeton and Yale this season, the Bears have dominated all other Ivy opponents thus far.
Friday night’s matchup for the Bears was overwhelming on the Quakers’ home court in Pennsylvania.
Two Bruno players — Jilienne Widener ’24 and Mariia Sidorova ’26 — reached 12 kills, with Sidorova adding an ace.
“The key to winning the battles at the net comes down to confidence in myself and trusting my teammates,” Widener wrote in a release to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “I’m not afraid to swing in high-pressure situations because I know I’ve spent countless hours preparing for just those moments.”
The kills were complemented by 29 assists and six kills from Sierra Jenkins ’24.
Jenkins “is an incredible setter and a hitable ball player no matter where she is on the court, so much of my success is due to her athleticism and incredible sets,” Widener wrote.
Despite winning the first set and a strong offensive performance that followed, the Bears did not have immediate control of the offense. Bruno earned five points off of Penn’s errors and was outhit .361 to .255, despite outshooting the Quakers 17 to 15. The Bears had two service aces, the highlight of the set.
In the second set, the Quakers started in a matchup with the Bears. Despite trailing 18-15, a Bears break, led by Jenkins from the serve line, gave Bruno a 20-18 lead. From then on, the Quakers never regained the lead, going 22-2, but losing three in a row.
The third set featured a crushing performance from Bruno. After the Quakers showed some life in the second set, the Bears outscored the Quakers 25-12, outscoring them 16 to 8 for a .382 hitting percentage compared to Penn’s dismal .086.
The set was tied 3-2 when Kayla Griebl ’25 stepped up to the serve line, sparking a run of eight straight points for the Bears, which included an ace for Griebl and a team-high six kills for Bruno.
On Saturday, the Bears made a trip to Princeton looking for revenge for a 1-3 loss to the Tigers in September. Despite their best efforts, history repeated itself and the Bears once again fell to 1-3.
The first set was all Brown. The team posted a .417 hitting percentage, converting on 13 of 24 at-bats, while the Tigers hit just .087.
The story of the first set was the aces. Victoria Vo ’25 opened the match with a two-point streak off two aces, and Bruno finished the first set with a total of five.
“Serving has been our strength all year,” head coach Taylor Virtue wrote in a release to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “Extending that type of service pressure throughout the match comes down to consistency and confidence. When we are able to trust ourselves from the service line, we create difficult situations for our opponents, which in turn puts our defense in a position to succeed.”
The Bears kept up the early pressure and went up 9-3 against the Tigers, but Princeton quickly mounted a comeback to cut the lead to 10-9. From then on, the Bears didn’t take their foot off the gas, winning four in a row, then three in a row, then three again and closing out the set 25-16 on a four-point run.
The Bears were unable to sustain that power over the next three sets, failing to hit above .250 the rest of the game.
Although they came close to winning the second set, going up 23-21 after a four-point run, they lost four in a row and the Tigers prevailed.
Princeton led the entire third set and defeated the Bears 25-21. The Tigers then went on to hand the Bears a crushing 25-12 defeat in the fourth as the Bears had a 0.0 hitting percentage to the Tiger’s resounding .344.
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“In general, I don’t accept that momentum is the reason a team wins or loses. Every moment is a new moment, every point is a new point,” Virtue wrote. “Being able to separate the competition in this way is important and also extremely difficult. We will continue to work to achieve success regardless of where the momentum lies.”
The Bears will continue their long road trip this weekend, heading to Harvard on Friday night and Dartmouth on Saturday. Both games will be broadcast live on ESPN+.
Dennis Carey is a senior sports reporter for The Brown Daily Herald. He previously participated in the Arts and Culture section. In his spare time, he enjoys watching Atlanta sports and collecting vinyl records.