In the race for the presidency, New York was never considered a battleground state.
The same can be said about the race for the Ivy Championship, as the women’s volleyball team ventured into the blue state and left both Cornell and Columbia black and blue.
Friday night, the Bulldogs (13-4, 7-1 Ivy) traveled to Ithaca, N.Y. to take on Cornell (7-11, 6-2). Both teams were tied 5-1 atop the Ivy League heading into the match, giving the Elis a chance to take sole possession of the lead.
Before the game, history and statistics suggested that the Big Red had a slight edge over the Elis. No player on the Yale squad had ever won at Cornell. On top of that, the Big Red is just one year removed from their back-to-back Ivy Championships in 2005 and 2006.
But the Elis worked to put their past behind them and said they could finally get a win in Ithaca.
“We knew that there was a little pressure since we were the top teams,” outside hitter Alexis Crusey ’10 said. “But we also knew that when we assert our presence on the road we can dominate games.”
The Bulldogs did just that, sweeping Cornell in three straight sets.
The Elis attribute much of their success to their strong service game.
“We served really well,” head coach Erin Appleman said. “It allowed us to control the match.”
The Elis recorded five service aces, while the Big Red had none.
For all their aces, the Bulldogs had more serves that limited Cornell to only one option, making it easy for the Elis to anticipate and contain a Big Red attack. Ready at the net, the Yale front line was a wall, posting seven team blocks.
On the Cornell side of the net, the home team’s defense was expected to contain Yale’s offense. The Big Red led the league in blocks and digs. But Cornell was no match for the Bulldogs attack. Middle blocker Laurel Johnson ’10 led the Elis’ attack with nine kills, followed closely by Crusey and outside hitter Cat Dailey ’10, each of whom added eight kills.
But behind every great kill is a quality pass, and the Elis had many. Setter and captain Ally Mendenhall ’09 recorded a match-high 32 assists.
On defense, libero Kelly Ozurovich ’11 had a team high of 21 digs. The Bulldogs’ defense was so solid that no player on the Big Red had more than five kills on offense.
But the Bulldogs weren’t done in New York. From the hills of Ithaca to the bright lights of the Big City, the Bulldogs turned their sights to Columbia (5-12, 0-8) on Saturday.
Coming off a loss to Brown the night before, the Lions were eager to upset Yale. However, the Bulldogs once again asserted their presence in an opponent’s gym, sweeping Columbia with ease.
The Lions, winless in the Ivy League, could not compete against the Elis because their offense was essentially limited to one player. Senior Amalia Viti, who leads the league in kills, had nine kills on 41 attempts. The rest of her team lagged behind. All other players combined for only 12 kills.
Columbia has eight freshmen on their squad, and their inexperience at the collegiate level can explain Columbia’s unsuccessful season.
On the other side of the court, the Bulldogs played a solid game on both sides of the ball. Crusey (11 kills and 11 digs) and Dailey (11 kills and 10 digs) each recorded double-doubles. On defense, Ozurovich anchored the defense with 16 digs.
The Bulldogs will be back on the road next weekend against Harvard and Darmouth.