Volleyball earns split in D.C. tourney

The nation’s capital played host to a group of Yalies this weekend, and much like Congress these days, bipartisanship was far from everyone’s minds.

The Yale women’s volleyball team (1-1), last year’s Ivy League champion, was not looking to compromise with its opponents as it took part in the Georgetown Classic on Friday and Saturday, coming away with a 3-0 (30-26, 31-29, 30-28) victory against the host Hoyas Friday while falling to Ball State Saturday 3-1 (20-30, 30-25, 25-30, 28-30). A third game was scheduled for Saturday against Central Connecticut, but was cancelled due to issues concerning the game officials.

Eager to prove that last season was the beginning of something special in New Haven and not just a flash in the pan, the Elis started out of the gates in solid form, receiving strong performances from both the wily veterans and wet-eared freshmen. Renee Lopes ’06 and Jacqueline Becker ’06 were named to the All-Tournament team, and Kristen Wilk ’09 and Courtney Hall ’09 combined for 20 kills in the two games.

Despite the loss to Ball State, defeating a Big East opponent such as Georgetown may be an early indicator of things to come for this group. Nicole Perkins ’08, who led the Bulldogs with 15 kills against Ball State, felt the win against Georgetown was positive on multiple levels.

“We had fight and determination,” Perkins said. “Beating a team like Georgetown is great for Yale and for the whole Ivy League because we don’t have scholarships. We didn’t let little things like our own fears get in the way of the big picture.”

The team, who became the first Ivy League team in history to win a game in the NCAA tournament last season, swept Georgetown thanks to key performances from Shannon Farrell ’07 and Lopes, who had 19 kills between them. Becker started up where she left off last season, setting up her Eli teammates for a total of 32 assists in the game.

Against Ball State, the Bulldogs had four players with double-digit kills and three with double-digit digs, but they could not stop Rachel Refrenes, the tournament’s MVP, who had 19 kills and a gaudy .415 hitting percentage against the Elis.

Ally Mendenhall ’09 noted that the team was less in-sync against Ball State, but does not doubt the team will continue to improve as the season progresses.

“Ball State was a more competitive team. We just didn’t have the same consistency,” Mendenhall said. “Once we develop more consistency, it will be really exciting to see what will happen.”

The team travels to Storrs, Conn. Tuesday to take on its Constitution State rival, the University of Connecticut. As they did against Georgetown, the Elis hope to leave another Big East opponent with a loss.

“The expectation is always to play hard and get better every game and expect to win every game,” Mendenhall sad. “And that’s what we’re going to do against UConn and that’s what we’re going to do against everyone else. I’m excited to continue getting better with the team.”

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