W. Volleyball: Masterful opening

For the women’s volleyball team, good things come in sets of three.

This past weekend Yale (3-0, 0-0 Ivy) won three straight games, in three straight matches, against Boston College (4-5), Colgate (3-6) and Hofstra (4-5), en route to winning the Yale Invitational. The Bulldogs maintained a high level of play throughout the tournament, with more firepower from more hitters than their opponents.

The volleyball team celebrates after one of three weekend victories.
Charles Francis
The volleyball team celebrates after one of three weekend victories.

“I was very pleased with the whole weekend. Our team played great,” head coach Erin Appleman said. “Although some teams had one star player, we were able to battle in numbers.”

Appleman’s comments are a testament to the team’s success on both sides of the ball. The Bulldogs were able to adapt to the different styles of play thrown at them by their opponents.

“Each team was a little different. Hofstra had a fast offense, and BC was scrappy on defense,” captain and setter Ally Mendenhall ’09 said. “But we have many players willing to step up and make a play.”

Mendenhall, along with outside hitters Cat Dailey ’10 and Alexis Crusey ’10, was named to the Yale Invitational First Team. Crusey was awarded MVP honors for the tournament.

Crusey recorded 14 kills and six digs in the opening match against Boston College, setting the team up for a strong tournament. She added 21 more kills and 16 more digs in the team’s next two victories.

“We had a great offensive tournament, and we played with high energy,” Crusey said.

By winning their first match on Friday, the Bulldogs extended their winning streak in season openers to four. Crusey and Mendenhall said the opening victory provided a great burst of momentum for the rest of the tournament and the season to come.

“The first victory was very big for us,” Mendenhall said. “We had to make adjustments on the fly, but we were able to make a big play when we needed it.”

But it was not just the veterans who contributed to the Elis’ success. Yale’s newest threat at the net, Dailey, had 39 kills and 22 digs for the tournament, proving that she could live up to expectations after transferring from the University of California at Berkeley.

“Cat is a wonderful addition. It’s nice to have another weapon on the team,” Crusey said.

And while points might be finished by outside hitters, they start with defensive stops. Mendenhall and libero Kelly Ozurovich ’11 each recorded 13 digs against Boston College.

The Bulldogs made key defensive stops in the second and third sets of the Boston College game to secure their first victory.

In their second match against Colgate on Saturday, the Elis proved they can battle back from adversity. In the third game against the Raiders, the Bulldogs were trailing 11-16 when Colgate took a timeout to end Yale’s momentum and extend the match to a fourth game. But the Bulldogs came out of their huddle ready to bounce back. The Elis eliminated their mistakes and defeated the Raiders in a 26-24 victory.

But it was in Hofstra that Yale found its toughest competition.

The Pride started the match with a fast-paced offense that propelled them to an early 6-2 lead. But the Bulldogs once again proved that they can’t be held down, and they never looked back.

The Elis will look to maintain their high level of play this weekend as they take on No. 1 Penn State (9-0), as well as Saint Louis (6-3) and New Hampshire (2-8) in the Penn State Invitational. Although the Bulldogs lost to Penn State last year, players said they are not intimidated by the reigning national champions.

“It doesn’t matter what team we play,” Crusey said. “We’re looking to go in and get better.”

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