It starts again: For the sixth year in a row, the volleyball team opened its season 1-0, the 23rd win for the program in 27 home openers.
The Bulldogs swept the weekend 9-0 at the 2009 Yale Invitational. The Elis began by cleanly trumping Georgetown in a Friday night opener and went on to trounce Fairfield and Colorado for the championship Saturday.
“It was amazing,” Haley Wessels ’13 said of the opening matches, the first of her college career. “My heart was pounding so hard — so much adrenaline. I haven’t played in a game like that in a while.”
The defending Ivy League champions earned a straight-set victory (25-23, 25-18 and 28-26) against the Hoyas on Friday night in the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
“It’s a great matchup,” outside hitter Alexis Crusey ’10 said. “We knew they were a strong program. They recruit some of the same players, and it gives us a chance to see where we fit in the volleyball world.”
Outside hitter Cat Dailey ’10 and Crusey led the charge with 14 kills apiece, and Kate Parker ’11 made an impressive 31 assists in her first collegiate start as setter.
Dailey earned a double-double with her 13 digs and 14 kills.
Although Yale scored the first point, Georgetown soon took the upper hand, opening with a 3-1 lead. The Bulldogs would tie the Hoyas 12 times before jumping ahead in the set at 20-19.
The second set was locked at 9-9 when Yale scored five points in a row to take the upper hand. Although Georgetown valiantly fought back, Yale ran away with the game in the final minutes of the set, and won 25-18.
Yale began strongly in the third set, but the teams traded off runs until the Elis tied the set 24-24. After three match-points, the Hoyas failed to stop the indomitable Bulldogs and lost 28-26.
“It was a team effort,” Dailey said. “I thought that the team showed heart out there — we had to fight back a few times, but it wasn’t easy. I thought that that’s a good sign for the future.”
The Elis had a much easier time against Fairfield on day two of the tournament. The Stags’ two aces couldn’t compare to the Elis’ six, and the Bulldogs out-hit them .308 (37-9-91) to .106 (32-20-113).
The Blue met Colorado, the first Big 12 program the Elis have ever faced, 2-0 for the season, and ended the tournament with a hard-fought straight-set win against the Buffaloes.
“We were looking forward to playing them,” Crusey said. “They’re in a competitive conference. We wanted to put our name out there by beating a tough, big competitive team — to make sure we’re scrappy and to be tougher and offensive — to make the smart shots.”
Dailey, who posted 31 kills over the weekend, hit .607 for the match. Seventeen of her kills occurred against Colorado. Crusey provided an additional nine kills.
“You don’t see that kind of performance in everyday volleyball,” Crusey said of teammate Dailey.
The first set began with a locked 10-10 tie, but Cordell led the Elis with three aces that began a rally to 15-10, Yale. The score was tied again at 18-18, but Yale dominated the final moments for a 25-22 victory.
In the second set, the Bulldogs left the Buffaloes behind at a 6-6 tie, and never looked back. An 11-2 run brought the score to 17-8, and Yale easily won 25-11, hitting a solid .323 (12-2-31) for the set.
A 12-1 run opened the final set of the weekend, and Colorado could never catch up. In a flurry of service errors, the Buffaloes stampeded off the cliff with the Bulldogs looking down at them from a lofty 25-9 win. Yale hit .550 (11-0-20) in the set against Colorado’s .042 (7-6-24).
Apart from sweeping the competition, the Bulldogs’ Dailey took home the Most Valuable Player award. Dailey, Crusey and Wessels also earned places on the All-Tournament Team.
“I was really excited for the opener,” Wessels said. “There were so many people watching. The competition was good — they gave us some good game. But I think we’re going to face some bigger teams.”
Next weekend, the Bulldogs will travel to Washington, D.C., for the American Volleyball Classic, where they will play the American University Eagles at 7 p.m. on Friday and Virginia Tech at 11 a.m. Saturday.