The seniors on the volleyball team left John J. Lee Amphitheater this weekend like they have for so many weekends in their four years at Yale: with a win.
In their last home stand of the season, the Elis (20–4, 10–3 Ivy) convincingly defeated the Columbia (12–15, 3–11) in three sets by set scores of 25–11, 25–12, and 25–18 on Friday afternoon. On Saturday, the Bulldogs returned to the court for Senior Day and swept Cornell (6–19, 3–11).
Against the Lions, the Bulldogs controlled the entire match from the opening serve, feeding off the presence of the crowd and the Yale Precision Marching Band.
“It was nice to see a lot of energy from us,” head coach Erin Appleman said of her team’s intensity. “The band being there definitely helped us.”
The outcome of the match was all but assured from the start. Every time it looked like the Lions might make a run, Yale’s dynamic duo of outside hitters Alexis Crusey ’10 and Cat Dailey ’10 were there to make a key block or kill. In fact, the Bulldogs out-hit the Lions 47–20 in kills.
Crusey had 12 kills while Dailey contributed 13 kills and 11 digs. Opposite hitter Bridget Hearst ’12 added another 11 kills to the Bulldogs’ effort. Setter Kerry Clavadetscher ’13 dished out 36 assists while libero Kelly Ozurovich ’11 anchored the Elis’ defense with 12 digs.
The next day, Yale handily swept the Big Red by set scores of 25–14, 25–15, and 25–11.
Dailey had another double-double with 12 kills and 13 digs. Clavadetscher added 29 assists while Ozurovich contributed 21 digs.
Although the Elis had no trouble putting the Big Red away, they did have a tough time holding back their emotions because of the gravity of the game. The match marked the last home game for five seniors: outside hitter Lydia Mailander, outside hitter Julia Mailander, middle blocker Laurel Johnson, Crusey and Dailey.
“There were tears in the locker room,” Appleman said. “There are certain things about this class that I will miss every day.”
Senior night marked the end of one of the greatest eras of Yale volleyball with the class of 2010. The seniors had the best four-year record of any class in Yale volleyball history, Appleman noted.
“Volleyball has been a huge part of my identity,” Crusey said. “It’s given me the platform to grow.”
Amid all the emotions of the match were the mixed emotions of a father with daughters on both teams. Ray Cekauskas, father of outside hitter Anya Cekauskas ’13 of the Bulldogs and outside hitter Alessa Cekauskas ’11 of the Big Red, said he was conflicted during the match.
“It’s an interesting dynamic,” Cekauskas said. “I root for a good, competitive game and sportsmanship.”
The dynamic could prove even more interesting next year as the Cekauskas of the Bulldogs takes on a larger role in trying to help the Elis replace their seniors.
“I hope they get to play against each other next year,” Mr. Cekauskas said.
But the Elis are not quite done with their season. The team travels to Brown on Tuesday for its final match of the season. While it may be difficult to prepare for the match after such an emotional victory, the Bulldogs will look to leave Brown the same way.
“We want to go out strong,” Crusey said.