VOLLEYBALL | Elis sweep Dartmouth and Harvard

With two games remaining in the regular season, the volleyball team maintained its position atop the Ancient Eight after two key wins over the weekend.

The Elis (16–7, 10–2 Ivy) extended their home winning streak to 10 matches with victories over fifth seeds Dartmouth (13–10, 4–8) and Harvard (8–16, 5–7). Despite being challenged by both teams earlier in the season, the Bulldogs won two matches in straight sets to stay in the running for the Ivy League title.

“I think we played well and had strong defense,” head coach Erin Appleman said. “We had different people stepping up offensively both nights.”

In their previous match against Dartmouth, Yale found itself in a 2–1 deficit before coming back after five closely contested sets (17–25, 28–26, 22–25, 25–13, 15–12). But Dartmouth did not put up much of a fight this time.

The Elis coasted to a straight set victory over Dartmouth (25–8, 25–10, 25–17); the Big Green’s first lead only came early in the third set.

The Big Green never challenged the Elis in the first set. After a powerful kill from outside hitter Katie Cordell ’12 and an 8–2 lead, Dartmouth took a timeout to no avail. Yale finished the set on a 17–6 run, highlighted by a service ace from Kelly Ozurovich ’11. Erica Reetz ’14 shot ended the first set, 25–8.

Dartmouth struggled to turn the match around in the second set. A 10–3 spurt filled with kills from Haley Wessels ’13, Cordell and Kendall Polan ’14 put the Big Green in trouble from the beginning, and an aggressive Bulldog defense didn’t make it any easier for Dartmouth to come back. The Elis notched multiple block assists en route to a 7–1 run. A Dartmouth miss ended the set 25–10.

Early in the third set, an Alissa Santa Maria kill led to the first Dartmouth lead in the match. However, the Bulldogs responded with a 10–1 run including three kills from Cordell. The Big Green did not give up and responded with a 4–0 run of their own, leading to Yale’s only timeout of the night. After the timeout, the Elis came back with a 4–0 run. Dartmouth tried to settle the game down with their own timeout and were able to keep the Elis from making any substantial run when play resumed. But the lead was too high for the Big Green, and the Bulldogs won five of the next eight points to win the set 25–17.

Annie Villanueva notched five kills for the Big Green while Amber Bryant led the team with 16 digs in the match.

The match featured six different Yale players with four or more kills. Polan fell one kill short of a triple-double with 20 assists, 11 digs, and nine kills.

Yale continued its weekend sweep in its Saturday match against Harvard, safely beating the Crimson 3–0 (25–14, 25–14, 25–18) and capping an undefeated record at home during the regular season.

The Bulldogs jumped out to a 9–3 advantage in the first set before a Harvard timeout. The Crimson stayed competitive with the Elis for the remainder of the game; however, after the Bulldogs won what seemed like the longest point of the match, capped by a Reetz kill, Harvard began to struggle for the rest of the set. A Harvard error helped Yale end the set 25–14.

“We keep the mentality of playing to win,” Ozurovich said. “Even if we have a big lead, we keep trying to win every point.”

Reetz had five kills in the opening set to lead the team, which hit .419.

The teams began the second set trading points, with neither team able to take a decisive lead. But after the Crimson held a 6–5 advantage, the Bulldogs blitzed Harvard and went on an 8–0 run. A Wessels kill gave Yale its biggest lead in the set, 20–9.

The third set followed the pattern of the second set. After an 11–10 Harvard lead, the Bulldogs responded with a 10–2 run. The match ended with a Reetz kill, 25–18.

Anne Ingersoll led Harvard with eight kills and Beth Kinsella had 21 assists.

Polan had another strong performance with 23 assists, nine digs, and eight kills. Ozurovich, who played her last regular season match at home, had 12 digs.

The season could end in a two-way tie for first place given that Yale and Penn (13–10, 9–2) win the remainder of their respective seasons after Princeton (13–9, 8–3) fell to Columbia (15–8, 7–5) for the second time this season last Saturday.

“On and off the court this team has learned the meaning of hard work and overcoming obstacles,” Bridget Hearst ’12 said. “We all realize the amazing opportunity we have in front of us, but more importantly we all know that no one is going to give it to us.”

The Elis will end their 2010 regular season next week on the road against Columbia and Cornell.

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