Bulldogs’ race for Ivy title over after five-game loss to Big Red

One loss and the Ivy League title has slipped out of the volleyball team’s grasp.

The Bulldogs (14-6, 8-3 Ivy) fell to two-time defending conference champion Cornell (8-14, 4-7) on Saturday night in a tough five-game match (27-30, 30-19, 28-30, 30-19, 14-16). The Bulldogs had first defeated Columbia (3-20, 0-11 Ivy) for their sixth straight win in a decisive three games in New York on Friday.

“Overall it was a very frustrating weekend,” setter Kate Parker ’11 said. “It was nice to get a win on Friday, but I don’t think anyone was happy with how we played.”

The last-place Columbia Lions forced the Bulldogs to earn every point of their 30-26, 30-25, 30-21 victory. FThe two teams remained within a few points of each other for the majority of the three games. In the first game, there were 16 ties and seven lead changes. The Bulldogs sealed off the victory with a pivotal 5-0 run led by outside hitter Julia Mailander’s ’10 serve. Games two and three closed out with similar runs for the Elis.

Mailander finished the match with the team’s only double-double, scoring a match-high 14 kills in addition to 11 digs. Other big offensive contributors included middle blocker Allison Kaptur ’09 and outside hitter Nicole Perkins ’08, who each posted 11 kills. Last week’s Ivy League Player of the Week, setter Ally Mendenhall ’09, came out strong with 45 of the team’s 52 assists as well as nine digs. Libero Kelly Ozurovich ’11 led the match defensively with 16 digs.

“It was a challenge playing away, especially because it was a really low energy gym,” Ozurovich said. “We really rallied to support each other and focus on what we needed to do to get the win.”

The team’s match against Cornell, their second away match of the weekend, was all about getting an early lead. The Big Red snatched the lead from the onset of the first game and never let the Bulldogs catch up — not once trailing Yale through the 30-27 victory. In the second game, the Elis established an early lead and carried it through to a crucial win that kept the match tied 1-1 in games. Game three resembled the back and forth play of Friday night’s match, but this time Cornell won essential points late in the game to pull ahead 2-1.

In the fourth game, Yale took control and dominated for another 30-19 win that brought the match into a tie-breaking fifth game. Yale pulled ahead 13-8 and had seemingly clinched the win when Cornell responded with a five-point rally to tie the game at 13-13. After being tied again at 14-14, the Big Red sealed their victory with a kill followed by an ace.

“It was a really competitive match,” Mailander said. “We just couldn’t finish out on top even though we had a lot of great individual performances.”

In the Elis’ second five-game match of the season, a handful of players improved upon their personal-best marks.

Perkins performed strongly for her second night in a row, leading the attack with a career-high 22 kills and career-high eight digs.

Mailander racked up her second double-double of the weekend with career-high 19 kills along with 16 digs.

Kaptur worked the net for a career-high of 10 blocks in addition to seven kills.

Ozurovich broke her career high standard with 35 digs.

Mendenhall tied her career-highs of 63 assists and five blocks. She also rounded out the game with 12 digs to score the team’s only other double-double.

And though it wasn’t a personal best, outside hitter Kali Nelson ’08 also contributed with 12 kills.

This weekend’s play put the team in third place in the Ancient Eight, falling behind their upcoming opponents Princeton (19-3, 11-0) and Penn (16-7, 9-2), who they will play this Friday and Saturday at home.

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