With most students just settling into the new school year, the volleyball team has already been back on campus for a week, readying themselves for the task of repeating as Ivy League champions.
The team has to be ready for a quick start to the season. The Bulldogs will host Boston College on Friday, Sept. 2 in their season debut. The following day, the squad will face double duty with a morning match against Colgate and an evening date with Utah, also at home.
“Every year we want to be in the mix for an Ivy League title, and it’s no different this year,” assistant coach Kevin Laseau said. “As a coaching staff, and hopefully as a team, we’re not looking at this year as ‘trying to repeat’ so much as simply trying to play our best every time out, competing in every match.”
The team will be without the leadership of former captain Kelly Ozurovich ’11, who left Yale as the all-time leader in digs last season, but it returns the other eight members of its roster last season, including standout freshmen Erica Reetz ’14 and Kendall Polan ’14, who helped lead the team to a share of the Ivy crown with Penn last year. Polan led the team with 830 sets, accounting for more than 65 percent of the Bulldogs’ sets all season.
“I have so much faith in these girls,” Kelly Ozurovich ’11 said. “They know what it takes to win a championship even as an underdog. This is a rare group of girls that can accomplish so much this year. I can’t wait to watch.”
The team has added five freshmen to the squad: Gabby Bird-Vogel ’15, Allie Frappier ’15, Mollie Rogers ’15, Maddie Rudnick ’15 and Dani Salka ’15. Rudnick is sister to Lydia Rudnick, a Princeton senior who wreaked havoc on the Yale defense during both their encounters last season.
Laseau said that this year’s incoming freshman has extensive club and high school experience. He added that practices have become more competitive as this year’s roster numbers 13 compared to just eight last season and everyone is trying to secure a spot on the starting lineup.
The Bulldogs begin Ivy play on Sept. 24 against Brown. Last season, the Bears forced the Bulldogs into a fifth and deciding set in New Haven, one day after the Elis had dismissed Brown in straight sets the previous day.
“It’s important for us to stay focused on our team goals and continue to push ourselves throughout the season,” Katie Cordell ’12 said. “We’ve got some tough competition ahead of us, so it’s all about the preparation.”
After Brown, the Bulldogs will face Cornell and Columbia. The squad had a 6–0 record against those three schools last year, losing only three sets.
Yale will face Penn in the second month of Ivy League competition. The Quakers will be without their star player, Megan Tryon, who had 53 assists and nine digs in Penn’s victory over Yale last season in the playoff for the NCAA tournament berth.
“As always we’re working hard in preseason and taking things one day at a time,” Cordell said. “I can’t wait to see where we go from here.”
This season will be Erin Appleman’s eighth as the team’s head coach.