The volleyball team is running out of matches. With a 3-0 loss (30-26, 30-17, 30-21) to the University of Connecticut at the John J. Lee Amphitheater on Wednesday night, the Elis (12-8, 4-5 Ivy) only have five more chances left this season to put black marks into their win column.
The Elis had individual performances from middle hitter Renee Lopes ’06 and libero Jessica Kronstadt ’04 in the losing effort. Lopes ’06 racked up 10 kills and a .450 hitting percentage while Kronstadt contributed a game-high 15 digs on the defensive end. But the Bulldogs failed to find their rhythm and get the other players involved.
Despite acknowledging Connecticut’s talent advantage as a school that offers athletic scholarships, the Elis recognized that a big reason for the lopsided loss was their own poor performance.
“[Connecticut is] able to recruit a lot more firepower than Ivy league [teams] can because of the whole scholarship program,” outside hitter Anja Perlebach ’07 said. “But we just started making little mistakes [on Wednesday night.] They are a very beatable team but we kind of beat ourselves.”
Yale started out strong in the first game of the night. Trailing 26-24, Yale was able to tie the score at 26-26 with back-to-back kills by outsider hitter Jana Freeman ’05 and captain Taryn Gallup ’04. But the Huskies went on the warpath, scoring the next four points to take the game.
“I think we lost concentration and we couldn’t sustain our level or play,” Yale head coach Erin Appleman said.
Yale lost a key component of its offense when setter Jackie Becker ’06 was forced to leave the game after the first game with a knee injury. Becker — last season’s Ivy League Rookie of the Year — was instrumental in Yale’s Oct. 31 victory over Princeton, which was the Elis’ first win over the Tigers since 1997. Before leaving the game, Becker was hitting .400 with two kills and losing the star setter early on in the match threw off the Bulldogs’ offensive momentum.
“We had a new lineup [to replace Becker] and they did an amazing job,” libero Jesscia Kronstadt ’04 said. “But it wasn’t as strong as the first game performance.”
Yale felt the pain of Becker’s loss immediately. The Huskies dominated the Elis in the second game, more than doubling the Bulldogs in kills, 20-7. The Huskies also hit .375 as a team, far outstripping the Elis’ paltry .103 hitting percentage.
“The first game we played very rigid, we competed,” Kronstadt said. “[But] in the second game we let [ourselves] down. Our passing was weak, our defense was weak. They are certainly a strong team but today we beat ourselves.”
In full control of the second game and the match, Connecticut seemed to let down their guard in the third game. The Huskies’ hitting percentage dropped more than two-tenths of a point to .119. As a team, Connecticut also committed a whopping 10 errors. But Yale failed to capitalize, dropping the game and the match.
The Elis will have a shot at redemption this weekend as they travel to Dartmouth (8-13, 2-8) and Harvard (7-13, 6-4).
Despite beating Dartmouth 3-1 on Oct. 25 at home, Yale is not planning to take the Big Green lightly on Friday.
“Anyone can beat anyone. We need to play [Dartmouth] the same way that we play Harvard. We really can’t take them mildly,” Becker said.
For Yale to avoid the upset, the Bulldogs need a repeat performance from outside hitter Jana Freeman ’05 who tallied a .409 hitting percentage, 20 kills and 19 digs against Dartmouth in the two teams’ first meeting of the season.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs anticipate a tougher matchup against Harvard which is directly in front of Yale in the Ivy League standings. In the two team’s last meeting on Oct. 24, the Elis took the first game, but dropped the next three straight to lose the game. Despite a season-high 28 digs from Freeman, Yale’s poor serve-receive passing and inability to put shots away downed the Elis.
Although Yale lost to Harvard earlier in the season, outsider hitter Anja Perlebach ’07 said she believes the Bulldogs are better prepared for the Cantabs this weekend because they have gotten a chance to see the Crimson play.
“If we go in there and play our game, we shouldn’t have any problems with them,” Perlebach said.