A week after winning two of its three Blackbird Invitational matches, the women’s volleyball team is heading to California — the home state of six of its players.
The Bulldogs flew to southern California on Thursday to prepare for the Fullerton Classic in Fullerton, Calif., where Yale (5–1) will match up against Liberty on Friday, before taking on West Virginia and hosts Cal-State Fullerton the following day. After the weekend, only two contests remain until Yale begins Ivy League play.
“The teams we’re playing are very talented and a good warm-up for the Ivy League,” head coach Erin Appleman said.
As they face teams from across the country, the Elis hope to carry their momentum from the Brooklyn, N.Y., Blackbird Invitational last weekend, which they ended with a win over Long Island. Yale also defeated the New Jersey Institute of Technology and lost to Georgetown.
Outside hitter Erica Reetz ’13 and setter Kendall Polan ’13 were both named to the all-tournament team, with Reetz becoming the second team member after Polan to earn Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors last Tuesday. In the three Blackbird Invitational matches, Reetz notched a team-best 32 kills, 19 digs, three blocks and one service ace.
The tournament boosted the team’s statistics as well. After the first three weeks of the season, Yale is first in the Ivy League in hitting percentage at .275, kills per set at 14.3, assists per set at 13.5 and blocks per set at 2.3.
Still, Appleman said her players will face challenges in the next few days as they attempt to adjust to the time change while playing competitive teams. Liberty’s starting record is the second-best in team history at 7–3, and the Flames lead the Big South Conference in kills with 13.30 per set, assists with 11.92 per set and hitting percentage at .223. Appleman added that Liberty has had wins against strong teams so far this year, making the team a good challenge.
The Bulldogs’ next opponent of the weekend, West Virginia (8–3), is coming off a three-game win streak, and leads the Big East conference in opponents’ hitting percentage at .139 and digs per set at 18.44.
When Yale faces Cal-State Fullerton (6–3), the Titans will have a home-court advantage as well as a height advantage, Appleman said. Cal-State Fullerton has swept five of its last six matches, including in a victory at the University of Nevada Las Vegas last Saturday.
Though they have not yet played a set in California, the Bulldogs are already contending with another obstacle: the cross-country move.
“The time change, it’s always a challenge, as well as just the travel,” Appleman said. “It’s a long day of traveling. We had to get up really early.”
At least the territory is familiar for the six players who hail from California: Katie Cordell ’12 (Yorba Linda), Taylor Cramm ’12 (Laguna Niguel), Bridget Hearst ’12 (Pacific Palisades,) and Julia Cortopassi ’13 (Davis), along with Polan, who hails from Cardiff. The captain and only senior, libero Kelly Ozurovich ’11, is from Playa del Rey, Calif., and has earned all-Ivy honors each of the past three seasons.