The volleyball team seems to start every season with a broom.
For the fourth season in a row, the Bulldogs (3–0) swept the Yale Invitational, defeating Stony Brook (0–5), Quinnipiac (0–6)and Rhode Island (3–3)at the John J. Lee Amphitheater over the weekend.
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“We got better as the tournament went along,” head coach Erin Appleman said. “I was happy with our improvement.”
On Friday night, the Elis lost its only set of the tournament in a 3–1(25–16, 11–25, 25–19, 25–19) victory over Stony Brook.
After splitting the first two sets, the teams Yale held a 12–11 lead when a key kill from outside hitter Erica Reetz ’14 in the third set sparked a 9–1 Yale rally, giving the Bulldogs control of the set.
“We were a little nervous at the start,” Appleman said. “But we recovered.”
A similar 8–0 run from the Blue put the match away in the fourth set.
Opposite hitter Bridget Hearst ’12 slammed home a match-high 16 kills while libero Kelly Ozurovich ’11 led the way on defense with a match-high 22 digs.
Setter Kendall Polan ’14 added 41 assists in her Yale volleyball debut as the team’s starting setter.
The next day, the Bulldogs started the action with a match against Quinnipiac at 1 p.m., followed by a match against Rhode Island at 7 p.m.
To open their Saturday, the Bulldogs swept Q-Pac in three sets (25–17, 25–7, 25–22), led once again by a 12-kill performance from Hearst and 16 digs from Ozurovich.
Middle blocker Haley Wessels ’13 got things going in the first set, landing five kills in the frame alone. Polan added ten assists in the first set.
The Elis cruised to victory, benefitting from a balanced scoring attack, in which six players had at least three kills, and a balanced defensive game —four players had at least five digs.
URI, despite not winning a set, gave the Bulldogs their most competitive match Saturday. The Elis swept the Rams in three tough sets (29–27, 28–26, 25–20), including coming back from eight points down to win the first set.
Ozurovich was a key part of the Bulldogs comeback in the first set, notching nine digs in the frame to keep the Rams at bay.
“I was extremely proud of Kelly,” Appleman said. “She was the rock that kept us grounded.”
The second set also was a nail-biter, but key plays from outside hitter Katie Cordell ’12, who contributed two kills and four digs in the frame, put the Elis over the top.
In the third set, the Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead that they would not relinquish en route to victory.
Hearst led the way with a match-high 18 kills while Polan contributed a match-high 47 assists.
Hearst was named MVP of the tournament, with 46 kills over the three games.
“That was the best all-around I’ve seen [Hearst] play,” Appleman said.
“Bridget is our go-to hitter,” Wessels said. “She really knows how to put the ball away.”
Polan, who had two 40-plus assists games in the tournament, joined Hearst on the all-tournament team.
The Bulldogs are off until they take the court at the Long Island tournament next weekend.
“It’s always nice to start your season with three wins,” Ozurovich said. “We’re really excited to hopefully continue our winning streak this weekend.”