Vball powers into first

The women’s volleyball team lost just three games last season, and Cornell was responsible for two of them. What a difference a year makes.

This weekend the Bulldogs beat Columbia, 3-1, on Friday and Cornell, 3-0, on Saturday to bring their record to an impressive 4-0 in Ivy play.

The Bulldogs (9-5, 4-0 Ivy) captured a crucial win against Cornell (8-6, 3-1) on Saturday, moving them into first place in the Ancient Eight standings. During the 2005 season, Yale’s two losses to the Big Red prevented the Elis from capturing the league title and from advancing to the NCAA Tournament. In their first matchup against the Big Red this season, the Elis avenged their prior defeats, taking Cornell in three sets.

Yale beat the Big Red decisively, outhitting them .321 to .300 and winning all three games (30-25, 30-26 and 30-27). The Bulldogs’ hitting percentage (.321) marked a high for the season, and outside hitter Alexis Crusey ’10 bolstered her already impressive season kill stats by racking up 18.

“It was such a relief to beat Cornell, because we’ve been working so hard this season,” outside hitter Shannon Farrell ’07 said. “We’re very confident right now in the way that we’re playing.”

With 10 more Ivy games to come, including another match against the Big Red, the Bulldogs are upbeat about their season thus far.

Yale head coach Erin Appleman said the seniors were part of the reason the team was able to bounce back and to play well against the Big Red.

Farrell and Perlebach both attributed the win to a team effort.

“Every time we step on the court we’re continually getting better,” Perlebach said. “It’s like there aren’t any freshmen on the team anymore.”

The Bulldogs looked like a different team on Friday night. Though the Elis beat Columbia (5-8, 0-4), they did not play to their potential, Appleman said.

The match against Columbia lasted four games (30-25, 30-27, 26-30, 30-26), with the Bulldogs falling in the third set despite outhitting the Lions .206 to .163 over the course of the match.

The first game saw the lead change multiple times until Crusey’s dominant offense brought on a Yale victory. Crusey won two games on spikes, earning her a game-high 24 kills.

“Lexi’s offense is one of our strengths at this point,” Perlebach said. “Our defense has always been strong, but to be dominant in this league you need a good offense, too.”

The Lions came back to win the third game by outscoring Yale, 8-4, in the last points of the game. The Bulldogs never surrendered the lead in the fourth game and pulled through to win the match.

Despite the win, the Elis expressed disappointment in their play against Columbia.

“We didn’t come out with the same intensity as we did against Cornell,” Farrell said. “It didn’t feel like a win.”

Although the Elis have knocked out last-place Columbia and 2005 nemesis Cornell, there are still a lot of games left to focus on, Appleman said.

“It’s nice to be 4-0 but there are still 10 matches left that are just as important,” she said.

The Bulldogs will take on Harvard next Friday in Cambridge and will head to Hanover on Saturday to challenge Dartmouth as they continue their pursuit of an Ivy League championship.

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