Season not quite over, Elis still hopeful of tying for first in Ivies

For those who may have missed the high-profile matches against No. 1 Penn State and No. 5 Stanford and the 5-0 home winning streak against Ivy League opponents, there is still a chance to see the volleyball team in action.

The Bulldogs (14-6, 8-3 Ivy) will host Penn (16-7, 9-2) and Princeton (19-3, 11-0) this weekend, and there is a minute possibility that they could tie for first in the league. The team must win its three final matches and Princeton must lose its final three as well if the Bulldogs are to become top dog.

“We are still fighting for our season because it’s not over yet,” captain Maribeth Martens ’08 said.

The season has been full of noteworthy accomplishments. So far the Bulldogs have beat out their opponents in kills, 1,028 to 875, and the team’s top five hitters have all slammed down over 100 kills each.

Outside hitter Alexis Crusey ’10 has spiked down 249 kills to lead the team, and outside hitter Julia Mailander ’10 has killed for 171 points. Mailander also earned Ivy League Honorable Mention last week to join past Player of the Week setter Ally Mendenhall ’09 and past Rookie of the Week libero Kelly Ozurovich ’11 among those with conference recognition this season.

On the defensive side, middle blocker Laurel Johnson ’10 has used her position at the net to shut down the opponents’ attack with 53 blocks, giving her the most blocks on the team. Ivy League Rookie of the Year candidate Ozurovich has battled hard and kept a solid lead on digs, collecting 336 so far this season. She has scraped up 100 more than the next highest digger, Crusey, who has 236.

All of that action has led the Bulldogs to an undefeated home record against Ivy opponents, and this weekend they host their last two matches in the John J. Lee Amphitheater. These two games should be some of the most competitive Ancient Eight matches of the season.

“We have a lot of confidence about the upcoming matches, knowing we previously beat Penn in three games and played a very competitive match against Princeton,” Crusey said. “We are coming off of a tough weekend, and we have a lot to prove to ourselves and to our fans.”

The Elis will first face off against Penn at 7 p.m. Friday. The Quakers currently hold the second-place spot in the conference and trail behind the Bulldogs’ next opponent, Princeton. The match against the Tigers will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Before Saturday’s match, the players will honor the four seniors on the squad: middle blocker Morgan Hume ’08, outside hitter Kali Nelson ’08, outside hitter Nicole Perkins ’08 and Martens.

“Our seniors have been amazing on and off the court all year,” Mailander said. “I can’t imagine what the team will be like when they are gone.”

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