This Halloween weekend, the volleyball team might as well have donned costumes as witches. Although the blue and white on their away jerseys is a far cry from solid black robes, both costumes come equipped with brooms.
And the Bulldogs put theirs to good use, sweeping both Harvard and Dartmouth.
After last weekend’s decisive victories, Yale (15-4, 9-1 Ivy) improved to a 4-0 on the road with two more perfect games against Harvard (9-13, 4-6) and Dartmouth (8-13, 3-7). Yale has not yet lost a set on the road in conference play this season.
On Friday night, the Bulldogs played the Crimson for the second time this year. The two teams met earlier in the season at the John J. Lee Amphitheater, where Harvard pushed the Elis to a five-set thriller before eventually losing the match. In that contest, the Bulldogs celebrated the 30th anniversary of volleyball at Yale and were able to rely on the energy of the home crowd and the alumni in the stands.
Instead of leaving anything to chance, the Elis controlled the entire match and defeated the Cantabs as soon as possible.
Opposite hitter Bridget Hearst ’12 and outside hitter Cat Dailey ’10 led the way, with 10 kills apiece. Hearst was especially efficient at the net, gaining her 10 kills on only 16 attempts. Behind Dailey and Hearst, outside hitter Alexis Crusey ’10 and middle blocker Laurel Johnson ’10 contributed to the offense, each adding eight kills to the Bulldogs’ effort.
But for every relentless attack that the Elis had on the Crimson, they also had an answer on defense. Libero Kelly Ozurovich ’11 led the team with 11 digs. Dailey also had 11 digs, giving her a double-double for the match. Crusey posted 10 digs for the Bulldogs on defense.
In the transition game, captain and setter Ally Mendenhall ’09 led the team with 35 assists.
The Bulldogs jumped to early leads in both the first and second sets, the third set was much closer. After building an early six-point lead, the Elis relinquished their advantage and the Crimson fought back to trail by one, 18-17. But the Bulldogs came together and squelched any chance of a Cantab victory, winning the set, 25-19, to improve to 8-1 in the Ivy League.
“I’m really pleased with how we’re playing right now,” head coach Erin Appleman said. “We’re playing consistent, confident volleyball.”
The win was especially sweet for Appleman, who celebrated two milestones on Friday night — her birthday and her 100th win leading the Bulldogs. She now trails her predecessor, Peggy Scofield, on Yale’s list of all-time wins. Scofield garnered 307 wins in her 17 year tenure at Yale.
On Saturday afternoon the Elis were back on the court, this time against Dartmouth. In their first matchup, the Bulldogs beat the Big Green in three straight sets and they looked to repeat the feat last weekend. But the Bulldogs didn’t enter the game underestimating the Big Green.
Although Dartmouth is ranked seventh in the conference, the Big Green pushed six of their nine matches into extra sets. The Elis knew that Dartmouth was capable of stealing sets away from their opponents.
“One of the lessons that we’ve learned this season is that you can’t go into any match thinking it will be easy,” Mendenhall said. “We respect Dartmouth, but we know that if we go into any game and play at a high level we can win.”
Three players on the Bulldogs’ roster recorded double-doubles in the victory over the Big Green. Dailey had a season-high 17 kills and 15 digs, Crusey posted 11 kills and 19 digs and Mendenhall tallied 34 assists and 11 digs. Hearst also contributed to the Elis’ effort with 10 kills.
The Bulldogs will return home this coming weekend when they host Cornell (7-13, 6-4) and Columbia (5-14, 0-10).