With five conference wins in a row, the Bulldogs only need to win another five to have a chance of beating out Princeton for the Ivy title. The volleyball team (13-5, 7-2 Ivy) won both of their matches in the John J. Lee Amphitheater against Harvard (7-15, 2-8) and Dartmouth (13-7, 6-4) over the weekend.
The Elis crushed the Crimson in three games (30-22, 30-21, 30-18) for the second time this season before facing the Big Green. After losing to Dartmouth earlier this season, the Bulldogs were highly motivated for Saturday’s match and rallied in a five-game match (30-28, 24-30, 23-30, 30-26, 15-13) in which every point made a difference.
“I was very pleased with how we played,” head coach Erin Appleman said. “We have been practicing very hard, and everyone has been contributing well.”
In their eighth straight victory over Harvard, the Elis earned the lead early in each game and never gave the Crimson a chance to recover. Outside hitter Nicole Perkins ’08 was a strong presence at the net, smacking down a season-high 14 kills and hitting an impressive .500. Another dominant force was outside hitter Julia Mailander ’10, who put up a double-double with a career-high 15 kills and 13 digs.
In addition to representing another conference victory, the match held a special significance for Yale’s seniors, who faced the Crimson for their last time.
“It felt really great to beat Harvard,” captain Maribeth Martens ’08 said. “Our game plan is always to come out aggressively and play well, and this was a good win.”
After the solid win on Friday night, the Bulldogs kept the ball rolling in Saturday’s afternoon match. The Dartmouth match was pivotal for the Bulldogs — a loss could have put them out of the running for the Ivy title. But this time they faced the Big Green on their own ground.
“It is really nice to play at home,” Appleman said. “We have been playing really well, and we just need to keep the momentum going.”
The Elis started strongly with a win in the first game, but Dartmouth responded by winning the next two games. Faced with a potentially devastating loss, the Bulldogs had to go big in the fourth game.
“Not only was it obviously our last chance in the match, but we knew we had to step it up from the beginning of the game,” outside hitter Lydia Mailander ’10 said. “We could not focus on the bigger picture but [rather] what we had to do in that moment.”
The team pulled through, winning the final two games to defeat the Big Green. Setter Ally Mendenhall ’09, a consistent player throughout the season, almost scored a triple double with 55 assists, 14 digs, and nine kills.
Outside hitter Alexis Crusey ’10 played a crucial role, with 25 kills and career highs in digs, with 27, and assists, with five. Libero Kelly Ozurovich ’11 dove all over the court for a match-high and career-high 33 digs.
Four of Dartmouth’s players scored double-doubles, but contributions from numerous Yale players combined to overwhelm the Big Green. With the win, the Bulldogs are now tied for second place in the Ancient Eight, behind Princeton (17-3, 9-0), who they have yet to play for a second time.
Before facing Princeton again, Yale will travel to Columbia (3-17, 0-9) and Cornell (7-13, 3-6), where teammates said they hope to extend their winning streak.
“We really need to take care of business on the road,” Lydia Mailander said. “Even though we have beat both of them this season, neither one of them is an easy team.”