In their most important weekend of the season to date, the Bulldogs will take the court in the John J. Lee Amphitheater with matches Friday and Saturday against Penn and Princeton.
The volleyball team (15–5, 9–1 Ivy) is hoping for a lot of support on a home weekend to put them in the perfect position to take the Ivy title on the road next week. With that goal in mind, the team will be raffling off a free iPad at each match to encourage fans to attend. For those worried about missing the hockey games, the team has accounted for that as well. Friday’s match has been pushed back to 6 p.m. and Saturday’s is slated for a 5 p.m. start.
“[Fan support] is tremendous,” head coach Erin Appleman said. “Any time you can have that seventh person on the sideline cheering you on really helps. The arena is such that a couple loud voices make a huge difference.”
The weekend kicks off on Friday night when Penn (7–13, 3–7) will attempt to avenge a 3–0 loss at the Bulldogs’ hands in Philadelphia earlier this season. That match saw freshmen outside hitters Mollie Rogers ’15 and Allie Frappier ’15 take control recording 13 and 11 kills respectively.
After sharing the Ivy title with Yale last season, Penn has struggled mightily this year, losing five of their last six matches. But the Quakers may have picked up some steam last Saturday when they broke their five-match losing streak in a 3–2 win over Dartmouth.
In spite of Penn’s recent troubles, Appleman expects a tough match from the Quakers based on their performance last weekend.
“Everybody may be thinking about Princeton Saturday night, but Penn had a fabulous weekend,” Appleman said. “Some injured players are returning for them, and I think they’re really coming back.”
Regardless of Friday’s result, Saturday’s match is the most important of the season for the Elis. At 8–2 in Ivy League play, Princeton (15–7, 8–2) stands just one game behind Yale in the conference. If both Yale and Princeton win their matches on Friday, a Yale win on Saturday would allow the Bulldogs to capture the title with a 1–1 performance next weekend. On the other hand, a Yale loss under these conditions would allow the Tigers to pull even with the Elis at the top of the standings.
The Bulldogs’ only conference loss of the season was to the Tigers on Oct. 14 in Princeton, N.J. At the time, Appleman commented that Princeton simply played an outstanding match and could not be stopped. Behind Lydia Rudnick’s 25 kills and Cathryn Quinn’s 21 kills, the Tigers trounced the Bulldogs 3–1 despite four close sets. Appleman said the team needs to step up its game to stop players as talented as Rudnick and Quinn.
“Both of them are fantastic players,” Appleman said. “We just need to play to our potential. We didn’t have a great showing at Princeton but hopefully with a nice crowd behind us we’ll be able to play good, solid volleyball.”
Being the last home game of the season for the Elis, Saturday’s match will also be senior night. This season’s honored seniors are team captain Taylor Cramm ’12, outside hitter Katie Cordell ’12 and opposite hitter Bridget Hearst ’12.
The Bulldogs will tip off against Penn on Friday at 6 p.m. and against Princeton on Saturday at 5 p.m.