Lydia Rudnick '12, top, and Kendall Peterkin '16 have led 5-0 Princeton to a first-place tie with Yale at the top of the Ivy League standings. (Photos: Courtesy Office of Athletic Communications)
In 2009, the women’s volleyball team featured a dynamic senior-freshman duo. Outside hitter Sheena Donohue ’10, who led the Ivy League in kills, was the team’s primary offensive threat, while Lydia Rudnick ’13 emerged as a budding star in her rookie season.
Three years later, it’s the same story — but after two straight All-Ivy campaigns, Rudnick is now the veteran, with Kendall Peterkin ’16 taking her place as the impressive understudy. Rudnick and Peterkin currently rank first and second in kills per set in Ivy League play, lifting the Tigers to a share of the league lead with a perfect mark through five matches.
Donohue and Rudnick both hit from the outside position, while Peterkin plays on the right side, but there are still plenty of similarities — in 2009, Donohue averaged 4.02 kills per set, with Rudnick second on the team at 3.39; so far this year, Rudnick has 4.24 and Peterkin 3.35. Having experienced the situation from the other perspective, Rudnick knows how to help her young teammate thrive. “I looked up to Sheena as a leader, so now that’s what I’m trying to do for Kendall and everyone on the team — try to lead the team and do the best I can to bring energy onto the court every time,” Rudnick said.
Rudnick entered the season as one of the preseason favorites for Ivy League Player of the Year, and her early work has done nothing to discourage those thoughts; she led the conference in kills in 2010 and ’11, and she’s on pace to repeat that feat once more. Against Cornell on Saturday, more than half of Rudnick’s attacks resulted in a kill, even as the Big Red loaded up blockers on her side of the court.
“Lydia definitely leads by example, and I’m so honored to play with her,” Peterkin said. “She’s such a great player, and I can always learn something from her. I ask her for help or advice, and she gives it right away — she’s a great person to play with.”
Peterkin’s presence gives the Tigers a top option from other angles on the court; the rookie consistently hits between blockers from the right side and is also an attacking threat from the back line. Her breakout performance came on Sept. 28 at Harvard, when she notched 27 kills in a tight victory over Harvard, taking over with five kills in the decisive 15-point fifth set.
Behind their two top hitters and strong defensive performances, the Tigers outlasted Columbia and Cornell by 3-1 scores at Dillon Gymnasium this weekend. Next up: possibly the most highly anticipated match of the Ivy League season, as Princeton visits defending-champion Yale on Friday. Both teams are already two games clear of the rest of the conference at 5-0, so Friday’s showdown — and the return date at Dillon on Nov. 3 — could very well decide the league title.
And that won’t be the only thing on the line for Rudnick this weekend — her sister Maddie is a sophomore libero for the Bulldogs. “It’s always a really fun sisterly rivalry,” she said. “I don’t want to lose to her, obviously, so it’s going to be really fun to go to Yale and beat them.”
Quick takes
On Friday night, SPRINT FOOTBALL was as close as ever to ending its 13-year conference losing streak. After falling behind 18-5 at Powers Field, Princeton came back to tie the game at 26-26 with 10:45 to play. Both teams had chances to score in the final minutes, but neither did, and the Tigers went to overtime for the first time since its dubious streak began; after a Princeton field goal, Post answered with a touchdown to win 32-29.
The hosts came out on the wrong end of several disputed calls late in the game, but they were fortunate in other ways, as Post handcuffed itself with 125 penalty yards and several dropped interceptions. Still, there were a lot of positives for the Tigers, who posted their highest scoring output since 2007; they’ll have another good chance to get that long-awaited victory when they host Franklin Pierce on Friday.
FOOTBALL beat Lafayette on the road Saturday, winning back-to-back games for the first time in the three-year Bob Surace ’90 era. More impressive than the win streak is how the Tigers did it — they went on the road to beat Columbia 33-6 last week, then hammered a strong Lafayette squad 35-14. Few expected much from Princeton this season, but behind a formidable defense, the Tigers have a pretty strong resume entering the home stretch of six Ivy League games.
For the second straight week, WOMEN’S SOCCER scored two second-half goals in a five-minute span to break a scoreless tie and notch an Ivy League win over Brown on Saturday night. The Tigers are now 3-0 in conference play, tied with Penn for the league’s top spot. A few hours later, Cameron Porter ’15 scored in the second half to give MEN’S SOCCER a 1-1 tie with the No. 19 Bears; Princeton will next play No. 24 Creighton Tuesday on ESPNU.
MEN’S TENNIS star Matija Pecotic ’13 won four matches at the ITA All-American Championships last week in Tulsa, becoming the first Princeton player to reach the tournament’s semifinal round. The senior, who has won two straight Ivy Player of the Year awards, nearly made it to the finals but lost a third-set tiebreaker to sixth-seeded Alex Domijan from the University of Virginia.


Kevin Whitaker ’13 is an economics major and Daily Princetonian sports editor.