After taking the Quakers down for the second time this season, the volleyball team and its perfect Ivy record at home were disrupted by the Tigers this weekend.
Princeton (21-3, 13-0 Ivy) beat Yale (15-7, 9-4) on Saturday afternoon to continue its undefeated conference streak and clinch the Ivy League title. The Elis defeated Penn (17-8, 10-3) on Friday night to spoil the Quakers’ chances of tying the Tigers for the Ancient Eight title.
Princeton’s victory Friday also killed the Bulldogs’ shot at a possible tie for first place.
After Penn head coach Kerry Carr said in the Daily Pennsylvanian that she knew the Quakers were “the best team in the league,” the Elis came out Friday fired up to prove her wrong, players said. In a four-game contest, Yale did away with Penn — 30-25, 30-27, 26-30, 30-19 — for the second time this season to become 6-0 at home against Ancient Eight competitors.
“I think we played really hard and showed a lot of heart against Penn,” head coach Erin Appleman said.
Outside hitter Julia Mailander ’10, setter Ally Mendenhall ’09 and outside hitter Alexis Crusey ’10 had strong performances, all compiling double-doubles in the match. Mailander led the team offensively with 20 kills and libero Kelly Ozurovich ’11 held up the defense with a match-high 29 digs.
With momentum from Friday’s game and excitement about the chance for a victory on Senior Night, Yale headed into the match Saturday with hopes of spoiling the Tigers’ perfect Ivy season. Unfortunately, Princeton demonstrated its strength and consistency as a team — 30-27, 25-30, 30-24, 30-22 — in a four-game victory that guaranteed its spot in the NCAA post-season tournament.
“Princeton was a very good team,” Appleman said. “It was hard for us to maintain a high level of intensity against them.”
The Elis rallied after a loss in the first game with a victory in the second that tied the match 1-1. The Tigers were ahead in most of the crucial third match, and the Bulldogs struggled to keep their serve long enough to rally back.
After winning the third game, Princeton sealed its victory in the fourth game by gaining an early lead and not giving it up.
“We had a difficult time stopping their outside hitters,” Crusey said. “I think that our level of play was not as steady as we needed it to be.”
All four seniors on the squad got time on the court in their last home match. Outside hitter Kali Nelson ’08 smashed 11 kills and seven blocks, and outside hitter Nicole Perkins ’08 added three kills and three blocks. Captain Maribeth Martens ’08 contributed six digs, and middle blocker Morgan Hume ’08 chipped in with a block.
Crusey also put forth a strong performance, leading the team with 17 kills. Mailander posted 16 kills and 10 digs, and Mendenhall contributed with 48 assists and 14 digs.
But despite the loss, some of the Bulldogs’ faithful supporters — who many players have said have been key to the team’s success — were not discouraged.
“This was the first conference loss at home, but I think the team had a solid season, and we look forward to great things next season,” Jimmy Tormey ’10 said.
The Elis still have four matches left to play. Their next match is on the road this Tuesday against their last Ancient Eight opponent of the season, Brown, who they previously defeated this season in three games.