After a tough couple of weeks that included two disappointing losses to Cornell and Princeton, the volleyball team closed out Ivy play by taking down Brown last night.
The Bulldogs (16-7, 10-4 Ivy) trekked to Providence, R.I., for their only midweek match of the season and defeated the Bears (7-17, 5-9), 30-25, 26-30, 30-18, 30-27. Yale also won, 3-0, in the two teams’ first face-off early in the season, but the Bears showed improvements that made the second match more difficult, players said.
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Fifteen of Yale’s season matches were decided in three games, but Tuesday’s match marked the fourth in a row that has extended into either four or five games.
“We didn’t come out as strong as we have in the past, but I think that we came together when we realized that we were the better team,” middle blocker Kristen Wilk ’09 said. “All we needed to do was play our game, and we were pretty excited to finish our Ivy play on a high note.”
Wilk and outside hitter Alexis Crusey ’10 both smacked down a match-high 17 kills to lead the Elis’ offense. Crusey, setter Ally Mendenhall ’09 and outside hitter Julia Mailander ’10 all put up double-doubles for the second weekend in a row.
Crusey added to her strong offensive performance with 22 digs. Mendenhall posted 56 assists and 17 digs, and Mailander contributed 13 kills and 16 digs.
After being named Ivy League Rookie of the Week for her performance in last weekend’s play against Penn and Princeton, libero Kelly Ozurovich ’11 scrambled for a match-high 27 digs. Ozurovich is now tied with a Cornell freshman for most times receiving the honor, at three, and her teammates said they think she was very deserving of the accolade.
With the victory over Brown, the team finished third in the Ancient Eight, making this the sixth consecutive season in which the squad has placed in the top half of the league. This season, four Bulldogs are ranked among the top five in the conference in five different statistical categories.
Crusey holds onto the fourth-place position for kills with an average of 4.13 kills per game. Ozurovich is currently second in the league for service aces, with .49 aces per game, and in fifth place for digs per game, with 5.26.
With 12.07 assists per game, Mendenhall ranks second in the Ivy League, and middle blocker Laurel Johnson ’10 earned the third-place spot in blocks with 1.10 blocks per game.
“I think individual players have been successful because everyone on the team has been playing to the best of their abilities,” Crusey said.
Although Ivy play has come to a close, the Elis still have one last weekend of competition left to play. For the last matches of the season, the team will fly out to California over the break to compete in the Long Beach State Thanksgiving Tournament. The trip will include matches against top competitors Long Beach State, Florida and UC Santa Barbara.
“The primary goal is to have fun and play at a high level without any pressure,” Mendenhall said. “We are playing really good teams, which gives us an opportunity to rise to the level of our competition. We also get to enjoy the warm weather and spend the holiday together.”