Volleyball’s close losses lead to split

Another hard-fought weekend on the road has the volleyball team still in the running for the league title.

The Bulldogs (9-5, 3-2 Ivy) first played Princeton (13-3, 5-0) on Friday night and lost an extremely close match, with three of the four games running into overtime. The Tigers dominated when the play went beyond regulation, winning all three overtime games (35-33, 26-30, 34-32, 31-29) to remain undefeated and in first place in the Ancient Eight.

“We definitely came into their gym prepared and with a lot of energy,” outside hitter Alexis Crusey ’10 said. “The match could have gone either way, but unfortunately for us, Princeton ended up with the win.”

Although the final scores did not favor Yale, the team still came together as a unit and played more cohesively than they had all season, several players said. The Bulldogs’ hitters combined for 64 kills in the match, with Crusey knocking down over a third of them — 23, in the end. She also contributed defensively, with a career-high 25 digs, earning her first 20-20 double-double of the season.

Outside hitter Nicole Perkins ’08 also made an impact on both sides of the ball with 13 kills and a career-high seven blocks. Repeat Ivy League Rookie of the Week libero Kelly Ozurovich ’11 got down for 21 digs, and setter Ally Mendenhall ’09 posted a double-double with 56 assists and 12 digs.

“We never stopped fighting, even when we were losing or down games,” outside hitter Lydia Mailander ’10 said. “This is something that our team has improved upon, which should bode well for our play the rest of the season.”

After the unsatisfactory outcome against Princeton, the Elis rallied against Penn (9-7, 3-2) on Saturday, defeating the Quakers in a decisive three games with scores of 31-29, 30-26, 30-23.

“Friday was such a hard loss because we put a lot of heart out on the court and did not reap the benefits,” Perkins said. “Our attitude Saturday was that we wanted to prove we were as good as we know we are and all play together.”

The Bulldog victory epitomized team effort. Eight players punched down at least one of the team’s 53 kills each, and seven players dove all over the court defensively for at least one of the team’s 63 digs. Six Bulldogs served up at least one ace in the match, and seven players set up their teammates with at least one assist. Crusey posted her second double-double of the weekend with 19 kills and 14 digs.

With the one-win-one-loss weekend, the team is now in a three-way tie for third in the conference with Penn and Cornell and has fallen behind Princeton and Dartmouth, both of whom have defeated the Bulldogs this season.

“This is a good turning point for the team,” Perkins said. “We want to continue to play to our full potential, which really involves us all being cohesive on the court. Above all the wins, our goal is to play at our highest level.”

The Bulldogs return to their home court to play Columbia (3-13, 0-5) on Friday at 7 p.m. and Cornell (6-9, 3-2) on Saturday at 4 p.m. Both matches will take place in the John J. Lee Amphitheater.

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