VOLLEYBALL: Elis all but out of title hunt

The volleyball team was all but eliminated from Ivy League title contention champions after falling to rival Penn on Friday night in Philadelphia.

The Bulldogs (17-3, 7-2 Ivy) failed to avenge their previous loss to Penn earlier this season, falling to the Quakers (18-4, 9-0) by set scores of 23-25, 25-20, 25-23 and 25-21. In doing so, the Quakers put themselves in the driver’s seat for the Ivy championship, all but eliminating the Elis’ from winning a second consecutive conference title.

Although the Elis swept Princeton (7-13, 5-4) the next day, the loss to Penn for the second time this year put a damper on the season.

“It was really hard to lose, since this was our chance to take the Ivy League championship,” libero Kelly Ozurovich ’11 said. “We gave it our all, and it just wasn’t enough.”

Going into the much-anticipated match against Penn, the Bulldogs felt prepared to battle the undefeated Quakers.

“We had a lot of confidence,” outside hitter Alexis Crusey ’10 said. “We had a week of great practices.”

However, the Elis came up short despite their effort in another tough match against Penn. The Bulldogs narrowly took the first set 25-23, but the Quakers rode a tremendous defensive wave — which garnered 22 more digs than the Bulldogs — to win the next three sets.

“It’s tough to work so hard and fall just short,” Crusey said.

Yale is now 21-3 in Ivy League play over the past two seasons, with all three losses at the hands of the Quakers.

“Losing to Penn last year really hurt us this year,” head coach Erin Appleman said. “The loss last year to Penn gave them the belief that could beat us, which they used against us this year.”

Crusey had 21 kills and 11 digs, while outside hitter Cat Dailey ’10 had 19 kills and 17 digs. Setter Kerry Clavadetscher ’13 dished out 45 assists. And Ozurovich earned 16 digs, while outside hitter and captain Julia Mailander ’10 earned 11 digs.

Following the loss, Appleman was straightforward in speaking about the team’s loss.

“We fought hard. We lost. It sucks,” Appleman said. “Penn was just better tonight.”

But the coach urged her team to put the setback behind them.

“It’s time to move on,” she said. “Tomorrow is a new day.”

The team apparently took her advice by handily defeating Princeton the very next day.

Opposite hitter Bridget Hearst ’12 led all players with 11 kills as the Bulldogs swept the Tigers. Crusey added 10 kills and 11 digs, while Dailey contributed 7 kills and 8 digs.

“We were able to bounce back very well,” Crusey said. “Penn hurt us, but we were able to refocus mentally.”

Though it is unlikely the Elis will capture the Ivy crown, team members said they still believe this has been a successful season and attributed a large part of their success to dominant seniors Crusey and Dailey.

“Our seniors, Alexis Crusey and Cat Dailey, did everything they possibly could have,” Appleman said of the two outside hitters’ play in the Penn game.

Despite having little chance of winning the Ivy League now, the Bulldogs are still looking to play hard to finish their season strongly. They have three more games starting with a road contest against Harvard on Friday at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs need to win all three games remaining on the schedule, and Penn must lose all three of its remaining contests for Yale to defend its Ivy League championship.

“We still have a lot to prove,” Crusey said.

Comments