Revenge will be on every Yale volleyball player’s mind this weekend.
The Bulldogs (16–2, 6–1 Ivy) are heading to the Palestra in Phildaelphia on Friday to take on the Penn Quakers (16–4, 7–0). The Quakers, who narrowly defeated the Bulldogs on Oct. 10 at the John J. Lee Amphitheater, currently sit a top the Ivy League standings. The Bulldogs will then take on the Princeton Tigers (6–12, 4–3) on Saturday to finish their weekend road trip.
Back on Oct. 10, the Bulldogs played their most thrilling match of the season, but couldn’t come through against Penn. In that match, the Elis overcame two match points in the fourth set to force a deciding fifth set. However, the Quakers prevailed in fifth set score of 15–13. The match featured 25 ties and 11 lead changes.
“Our teams are evenly matched,” head coach Erin Appleman said.
The Bulldogs are in the midst of a 10-match Ivy League road-winning streak. They have not lost an Ivy road contest in nearly two years.
A Yale victory on Friday would ensure that — if both teams go undefeated the rest of the season — the Ivy League crown would be shared. A loss would put Penn in the driver’s seat in the march for the Ivy Championship. The stakes could not be higher for Friday night’s match.
On Saturday, the Elis will then face Princeton, a team in a rebuilding phase, whom they easily defeated earlier this season on Oct. 9. It may not be the high-profile match of the night before, but the Bulldogs can’t overlook the Tigers if they want to stay in the league title hunt.
As the Bulldogs approach the biggest game of the season on Friday, essentially a match for the Ivy League Championship, they can draw confidence from having some of the most accomplished players in the Ivy League. Outside hitter Alexis Crusey ’10, a three-time first team All-Ivy honoree, is currently averaging 2.94 kills and 3.39 digs per set. Outside hitter Cat Dailey ’10, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, leads the Ivy League in kills with 4.18 per set. Libero Kelly Ozurovich ’11, a two-time All-Ivy honoree, leads the Ivy League in digs with 5.47 per set.
As a team, the defense has been instrumental this season. Defensively, the Elis rank first in the Ivy League in blocks (2.29 per set) and opponent hitting percentage (.130).
As the defending Ivy League champion, the Bulldogs are ready to defend their title against the Quakers as they look to extend their four-game winning streak since the loss on Oct. 10. And they know how important it is going to be.
“It is for all the marbles,” Appleman said. “Our team is ready for the challenge.”