VOLLEYBALL | First road test for Elis

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Photo by Max de la Bruyere.

The Yale volleyball team (2–1) will hit the road for the first time this season after a strong showing at the Yale Invitational last weekend, falling only to the Pac-12’s Utah.

The Elis travel to College Park, Md. for the Arundel Mills Invitational. They will have a competitive weekend with home-team Maryland (3–3) on Friday before a double date on Saturday against Delaware (1–6) and Sacred Heart (6–1). With only two weekends remaining before the start of conference play, the team will look to find the form that helped them earn a share of last year’s Ancient Eight crown.

“I think it is good to travel on the road,” coach Erin Appleman said. “We have to be able to perform at home and on the road.”

A young core will lead the Bulldogs. In particular, last weekend’s trio, Kendall Polan ’14, Erica Reetz ’14 and Mollie Rogers ’15, will look to build on the early accolades earned at the Yale Invitational. Polan was named Ivy League Player of Week after a dominant showing throughout the weekend highlighted by her near triple double performance against Boston College.

“Kendall has started right where she has left off,” Appleman said. “She is really a mature player for only being a sophomore.”

For the second consecutive weekend, the team will head into uncharted territory, not having played any of the teams last season. Appleman explained that the team has had the opportunity to watch video of the teams play, but has not seen them play live action.

In the opening match against Maryland, the Bulldogs will have its hands full with a team that has the momentum of winning the championship of the Courtyard by Marriott Maryland Invitational with three commanding straight set victories against Virginial Commonwealth, Xavier and Quinnipiac, turning its season around after a dismal 0–3 start.

Similar to the Bulldogs, the Terps are led by a young player in freshman Ashleigh Crutcher, who was named tournament MVP. The North Carolina native was impressive throughout the course of the weekend, racking up 33 kills in the three games.

Next on the schedule for the Elis will be the University of Delaware. The Blue Hens will be looking to derive some positives from this weekend after a poor start to the season.

After winning its season opener against Rice, the team has struggled to find its range against some of the most athletic and versatile teams in the nation, Stanford, Oregon, Northern Iowa and Florida State, all teams ranked in the top 25.

“We are just trying different lineups on the court to see who plays what position best,” Appleman said.

Last on the venue for the road trip will be fellow Connecticut school Sacred Heart University. Unlike the Blue Hens, the Pioneers are 6–1, with its lone defeat coming in the season opener against Syracuse.

Of late, Sacred Heart has been in deadly form, dropping only one set in its seven victories over strong programs such as the University of Connecticut and the Ivy League’s Brown. The team is led by big hitter Johanna Ovsenek who earned 2011 SHU Invitational MVP honors, including a 14 kill performance in the battle against UConn.

The team will travel to College Park, Md., for tonight’s opening match against the home team at 7 p.m.

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