Rarely has the women’s volleyball team ridden an emotional rollercoaster as extreme as this one.
Just 20 hours after coming back to defeat three-time defending Ivy League champion Penn (7-6, 1-2 Ivy) 3-1 (30-23, 22-30, 18-30, 25-30) Friday, Yale (6-5, 1-2 Ivy) dropped a 3-2 (26-30, 30-26, 30-23, 18-30, 15-12) thriller to Princeton (11-4, 2-1 Ivy) Saturday. Both matches were at home at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
“Friday night was one of the best matches we’ve had,” setter Jacqueline Becker ’06 said. “We really came up great as a team, but Saturday we fell a little short with some mental errors and inconsistencies.”
On Friday, the Quakers showed their championship abilities right out of the gate, winning the first game 30-23.
Penn then scored the first four points of the second game before the Bulldogs finally came alive. Inspired by a kill by Lauren Burke ’05, Yale went on a 25-10 run, eventually winning the game 30-22.
In the third game, the Elis built on their momentum, building a 16-9 lead after a 12-5 run. Penn did not put up much of a fight as the Bulldogs coasted to a 30-18 victory.
The Quakers appeared revitalized in the fourth game and, at one point, trailed narrowly 19-18. But Yale scored the next four points to hold the lead. Then, with the score at 28-25, outside hitter Shannon Farrell ’06 served two aces to seal the victory.
Farrell was one of many Bulldogs dominant throughout the match, posting a team-high 20 kills along with four aces and seven digs.
“Shannon, in Friday night’s game, was someone we felt confident we could get the ball and have her put it away for us,” outside hitter Anja Perlebach ’07 said.
Captain Jana Freeman ’05, notching her fifth double-double of the season, had 12 kills and 22 digs. Becker paced the team with 50 assists and 21 digs. Kali Nelson ’08 continued her ever-improving play with a career-high 11 kills and 13 digs .
Friday’s win was the Elis’ first against the Quakers in three years.
“None of the girls on the team, even the seniors, had beaten Penn,” Becker said. “It really meant a lot to us.”
Against Princeton Saturday, Yale started strong, out-hitting Princeton .333 to .086 to take a 30-26 victory in the first game.
But just as the Elis did the night before against Penn, the Tigers rallied to win the second and third games of the match.
The Bulldogs refused to give in, going on two 10-4 runs during the fourth game to win 30-18.
In the fifth game, Princeton started strong, taking a 13-6 lead. The Elis kept their hopes alive by scoring the next four points. Princeton scored again, and Farrell immediately responded with two kills to bring Yale within reach. But it was too little too late as Princeton scored with a kill of its own to close out the match.
Farrell once again led the Bulldogs with a career-high 24 kills and 19 digs. Freeman chipped in with 13 kills and 22 digs.
Service errors at crucial points during the match proved costly for the Elis against Princeton, Perlebach said.
“We made mistakes at really important times at the match, like in the fifth game, under high-pressure situations,” she said. “We made a lot of service errors which really killed us.”
Yale’s split for the weekend means that the Bulldogs still have a shot at the Ivy League title. But any hopes of a championship now rest on their performance this upcoming weekend against Columbia and Cornell. Another loss would severely hurt the Elis’ chances of winning the Ancient Eight.
“Obviously it would have been better to come out with two wins just because of our standings,” outside hitter Christy Paluf ’07 said. “But the title’s certainly not out of our reach and the number one team will have two, three, four, losses this year. It just shows us that we can’t be looking at any more losses.”