VOLLEYBALL | Bulldogs, Quakers face playoff for NCAA bid

Though the regular season has ended, the Yale volleyball team will have another opportunity to shine on its home court.

After Penn beat Princeton Wednesday night for a share of the Ivy League title, the Bulldogs (18–7, 12–2 Ivy) must now play a playoff game at the John J. Lee Amphitheater on Sunday against the Quakers (16–10, 12–2) for a spot in the NCAA tournament.

“We’ve been striving to win the championship and go to the NCAA tournament all season, and we have that opportunity Sunday,” captain Kelly Ozurovich ’11 said. “We are all excited and ready to play.”

The Quakers will come into the game on a wave of confidence after beating one of the toughest teams in the conference, Princeton, in five closely contested sets. In their match on Wednesday, Penn was on the verge of defeat, facing four match points, in their hard fought victory over Princeton 3–2 (25–22, 25–27, 24–26, 29–27, 16–14).

The Quakers defeated Yale in Philadelphia earlier in the season 3–2; however, the Elis stormed back to easily beat Penn later in the season at home, 3–0, after that match.

Penn will try to impose their blend of strong defense and offense on the Elis as they compete for the opportunity to secure a spot in the NCAA tournament. Madison Wojciechowski is 10th in the nation with 5.59 digs per set to lead the defense. On the Quakers’ offensive side, Amanda Pacheco leads the Ancient Eight with a .354 hitting percentage, while Megan Tryon leads the conference with 10.64 assists per set.

But Penn faces an aggressive Yale team that has won 20 straight sets. The Bulldogs have not dropped a set since losing their third game 22–25 in a match against Dartmouth on Oct. 23.

On top of their set winning streak, the team is also undefeated at home. In fact, over the past two years, the Bulldogs have lost only one of their last 22 home matches. That lone loss came at the hands of the Quakers in the 2009 season.

“We are so excited that the game is at home,” Ozurovich said. “It’s nice not to have to travel and to get to play in this gym one more time.”

Yale is currently on a 10-match winning streak. The Elis edged Columbia and Cornell last weekend to ensure a share of the Ivy League title, not dropping a set in either match.

The team will rely on strong play from freshman Kendall Polan ’14 who received her fifth Rookie of the Week honors this week. In her first year as a Bulldog, she has already notched 800 assists. Bridget Hearst ’12 leads the team with 3.51 kills per set. On the defensive end, Ozurovich is first on the team with 5.39 digs per set.

“We’ve definitely had some obstacles along the way this year but we’ve gotten this far and can’t wait to continue the season,” Ozurovich said. “The amount that this team has grown and the things we have overcome are truly amazing and I couldn’t be prouder of everyone who has stepped up and taken on a bigger role.”

The match against Penn will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.

Comments