VOLLEYBALL | Elis struggle in preseason tournament

Kendall Polan ’14 had 49 assists during the Bulldogs’ victory over Delaware.
Kendall Polan ’14 had 49 assists during the Bulldogs’ victory over Delaware. Photo by Max de la Bruyere.

The volleyball team traveled to College Park, Md., this weekend to continue its preparation for conference play and faced Maryland, Delaware and Sacred Heart in what players called an exhausting weekend of competitive play.

Kicking off the tournament in a thrilling fashion, Yale (3–3) narrowly lost at the hands of Maryland (5–4), but followed up with a convincing victory over Delaware (2–8) before rounding out the tournament with a loss to Sacred Heart (8–2).

“I thought we played really tough, really hard,” head coach Erin Appleman said. “I’m not sure that we’re at our best yet. That’s something I hope to do by November.”

The Bulldogs kicked off the tournament against Maryland, a team that, just like Utah last weekend, has an especially tall lineup.

Yale jumped out to a 10–3 lead in the first set against Maryland and went on to win handily by a score of 25–16, led by the strength of Erica Reetz ’14 in front of the net.

The Terrapins came alive during the second set, but Yale still won narrowly, 31–29. Again led by the strong play of Reetz, who recorded nine kills, Yale was on a roll going into the third set.

But during that set, the Terrapins captured the game’s momentum, and overwhelmed Yale by a score of 25–19.

“Maryland gained momentum by making smarter shots and by improving their passing and digging so they could get the ball to their better hitters,” opposite hitter Bridget Hearst ’12 said.

With the match hanging in the balance, the two teams came out for a crucial fourth set that would contain the first of many comebacks for Yale on the weekend.

Down 22–17, Yale went on a 6-1 run to tie the set up at 23. On the ensuing point, Yale took the lead but was unable to hold on as Maryland took the set 26–24.

The excitement of the fifth set capped off a thrilling match filled with back-and-forth action. With Maryland leading 11–6, Yale went on its second 6-1 run in as many sets to tie it up at 12. The score, though, would not favor Yale in the end, as the Terrapins held on for an 18–16 victory.

The intensity of the match was mirrored by the raucous crowd of 295, Mollie Rogers ’15 said.

“It [kept] the intensity up and [kept] the team excited,” she said.

Despite a disappointing loss, the team had to regroup for a 10 a.m. matchup the next morning against Delaware. The Elis’ initial response was not encouraging, as Yale came out and dropped the first set 26–24. Following the first-set loss, the players huddled up before the second set, determined not to let the game get away from them.

“The talk in the huddle was kind of, ‘Hey, it’s early, we’re tired, but we need to wake up because the opportunity to beat a really good team is in front of us,’” Appleman said.

The team responded and came out more focused in the second set, going on to take the next two sets by scores of 25–22 and 25–18. The Yale attack was well-balanced and in top form, seeing four players record double-digit kills and five players have double-digit digs.

Allie Frappier ’15 led the way with 13 kills, 21 digs and three blocked shots while Kendall Polan ’14 contributed 49 assists, setting the pace for a match characterized by good passing.

“Everyone was playing well,” Appleman said. “Our passing and defense allowed us to get the ball to all of our hitters.”

Yale put the match away with a 9-2 run in the fourth set, winning the set by a final score of 25–20 and putting away Delaware three sets to one.

The Elis headed into their final match against Sacred Heart, which had disposed of Maryland earlier in the day, hoping to build on the success against Delaware.

But the Bulldogs failed to do so in the first two sets, losing by scores of 25–17 and 25–15. Refusing to give up, Yale came out ready to compete in the first set, jumping out to a 7–3 lead and going on to capture the set 25–20.

Yale continued its strong play in the fourth set, again jumping out to an early lead and eventually building a 19–11 lead. But the Bulldogs were unable to hold on and dropped the fourth set 25–23. After playing three matches in two days, the Yale squad was tired, Hearst said.

“I think that we were fatigued, but the reason we lost was because we weren’t able to execute well,” she said. “Every aspect of the game was there, we just weren’t able to put it all together.”

Looking back on the weekend and looking ahead in preparation for the Ivy League schedule Appleman said that the team still has work to do.

“I think we need to become more consistent,” she said. “There’s some details, some basic things that we need to work on. This week and next week will give us an opportunity to do that.”

After going 1–2 over the weekend, Yale looks to improve on its 3–3 record next weekend at the Yale Classic, during which it will take on New Hampshire, Army and Quinnipiac.

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