VOLLEYBALL | Freshmen make strong debut at Yale Invitational

In its opening weekend, the Yale Volleyball team defeated Boston College and Colgate, but then fell to Utah, 3–1, on the last day of the Yale Invitational.
In its opening weekend, the Yale Volleyball team defeated Boston College and Colgate, but then fell to Utah, 3–1, on the last day of the Yale Invitational. Photo by Max de la Bruyere.

The volleyball team (2–1) kicked off its campaign for a second consecutive Ivy League crown in preconference play against a trio of strong programs at the Yale Invitational over the weekend, finishing the preseason tournament 2–1.

The Elis established themselves as the dominant team in their first two matches against Boston College on Friday and the next morning against Colgate. But the team failed to find the form that would help them down formidable Utah, falling 3–1 to the Utes.

“We played well as a team given we had a few injuries during the preseason,” head coach Erin Appleman said.

Though Appleman did not specify the injuries, the team has recuperated and all the members of the squad have returned to action.

In its first match of the season, the Yale offense began with the first three points coming from their underclassmen core of Kendall Polan ’14, Erica Reetz ’14 and Mollie Rogers ’15. The team stormed to a 6–2 lead in the first set and held strong. Despite a run late in the set, Yale had little trouble to take it 25–18.

The Eagles fought to stay in the match and started the second set with a strong kill. But the Elis fought back with a run to take the lead, 5–2. BC responded with a run of its own and leveled the match at 7–7. The Yale offense and defense tightened its play and boosted itself to a two-set lead, winning the second frame 25–19.

“They were very consistent in their play and able to run a very good offense,” Bridget Hearst ’12 said.

BC did not roll over for Yale. After the Elis leveled the score at 10–10, BC continued to plug away at the Bulldogs’ defense, only to again have the score tied at 16–16. But the Eagles did not wither, and the team edged the Bulldogs 25–21.

Yale quickly regained momentum in the fourth set and took a 5–1 lead. Despite a BC timeout, the team continued to push, earning itself a 9–2 advantage. The Eagles stayed strong but the Bulldogs held on to take it 25–10.

The match featured a breakout performance from one its newest players, Rogers. The freshman from San Diego notched 13 kills and 27 digs in her debut as a Bulldog. BC was led by its senior outside hitter, Tsvetelina Dureva, who notched 17 digs and 12 kills.

“It was amazing,” Rogers said. “I had a lot of fun playing with such a talented group of girls in front of an energetic crowd.”

The next morning, Yale faced off against Colgate in a much more straightforward contest. The Elis took the match in straight sets, 3–0 (25–15, 25–19, 25–18).

The Bulldogs took eight of the first 10 points and never looked in trouble as the team went on to take the first set 25–15.

“We worked with a couple different lineups this weekend,” Appleman said. “The freshmen did well and everyone just did what was needed. There are things we need to work on.”

The second set was more competitive with the teams trading points, but Yale finished the set with a 6–2 run, winning 25–19 before taking the final set 25–18 for the victory.

McHaney Carter ’14 led the way for the Bulldogs with 10 kills. Polan added 33 assists, which accounted for 92 percent of the team’s assists in the match.

“Both teams played really well and we really had to stay focused and play together,” Hearst added.

In the finale to the Yale Invitational, the Bulldogs fell to the PAC-12’s Utah 3–1 (25–19, 28–30, 25–20, 25–22) in just over two hours of heated play. In spite of the loss, Polan was named co-MVP of the invitational.

“Utah is a really good team,” Appleman noted. “They were significantly taller.”

The first frame set the stage for the match, with a high level of play on both sides of the net. The Utes emerged with a 25–19 win.

The intensity picked up in the second set. To start the second frame, there were seven ties before the Utes made a 4–1 run to take a 13–10 advantage. The difference persisted until Yale came back with a 4–1 run of its own to tie it 24–24. Four more ties ensued before the Bulldogs came out on top 30–28.

Morgan Odale, who was named co-MVP with Polan, was dominant in the critical third set. When Utah’s lead was brought down to 11–9, Odale stepped up her play at the net and sparked a 7–1 run that ended with the Utes winning the set 25–20.

“They were just a better team,” Appleman said. “Preseason is about challenging yourself.”

Yale continued to battle in the fourth set, but the endeavor was useless against the taller and athletic Utah team. Down 18–15, Allie Frappier’s ’15 two kills brought the team within one. But that would be the closest the team would get as the Utes took the fourth, 25–22.

Two freshmen, Rogers and Frappier, combined for 29 kills while Reetz added another 11 in the losing endeavor against Utah. Odale notched a career high 23 kills on 53 attempts.

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