It could hardly have been any sweeter.
The volleyball team clinched a berth in the NCAA tournament and sole possession of the Ivy League title on Friday night against archrival Harvard in a 3–0 thumping of the Cantabs.
“Being at Harvard, it’s just such a historic rivalry and clinching the solo championship there was a great situation and a great experience,” outside hitter Erica Reetz ’14 said.
In their last Ivy weekend of the season, the Bulldogs (18–6, 12–2 Ivy) hit the road for matches at Harvard and Dartmouth. Already two games ahead in the conference, the Elis only needed to beat one of their two opponents to clinch their third trip to the NCAAs since 2004.
After guaranteeing at least a share of the Ivy championship with a win over second-place Princeton last weekend, the win over Harvard gave Yale sole possession of the title. It is the Elis third Ivy crown in the past five seasons.
The Bulldogs kicked off the weekend with a trip to Cambridge, Mass. to take on the Crimson (12–2, 5–9). Harvard struggled all season, and Friday night was no different as the Elis refused to make Saturday’s match against Dartmouth a must-win situation.
The Crimson played its best volleyball of the night during the first set. The two sides battled back and forth early as the Elis tried to gain an edge.
With the score tied at 16–16, Yale finally caught fire and pulled away. The team scored seven straight points to take a commanding 23–16 lead.
The run started with consecutive kills by Reetz and Mollie Rogers ’15. It was Rogers’ fifth kill of the match. She would go on to record 17 total kills for one of her best performances of the season.
“I just went into the match focusing on making it a team effort,” Rogers said. “It wasn’t about individual stats, just about us playing as a team and winning as a team.”
After the Bulldogs put away the first set 25–20, Harvard offered much less resistance. The Elis opened up the second set with an 8–3 run that featured two kills from Haley Wessels ’13 and four unforced errors from a suddenly unfocused Crimson side. The Elis did not look back and took the set by a 25–18 score.
Harvard was out of the match at that point. Down 2–0 and finishing up a disappointing sixth-place Ivy League finish, the Cantabs fell 25–13 to drop the match 3–0.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs were in Hanover, N.H. for a meaningless Saturday match against Dartmouth (16–9, 8–6).
Despite the fact that Yale had already clinched its NCAA bid, the box score was filled with the usual suspects. While some teams may have rested the regulars, head coach Erin Appleman said that she wanted to enter the NCAA tournament off a win rather than a loss.
“I think going into the tournament it would have been nice to be on an eight game win streak,” she said.
After dropping the first set by a narrow 26–24 margin, the Elis stormed back to take the second set, 25–18.
In a pivotal third set, the Elis again came out on the wrong side of a 26–24 score. With the score tied at 24, Dartmouth scored two straight points and capped off the set with a service ace.
Even though they had nothing left to play for, the Bulldogs refused to go down without a fight.
“No matter what match we’re coming into we want to perform our best and try to improve,” Reetz said.
Yale did just that in the fourth set. They fought back and tied the match at 2–2 behind seven kills from Frappier. Those points were part of a 17-kill performance from Frappier, a match high.
But the comeback would ultimately fall short as Dartmouth jumped out to a 6–0 lead in the fifth set and never looked back to take a 15–10 win.
“It was an emotional night for Dartmouth,” Appleman said. “It was a match that unfortunately we weren’t focused for and we didn’t play nearly as good as we needed to.”
After the Ivy title the Elis have some time off. They will not know who their first round opponent is until Nov. 27. In the meantime, they will be keeping their game sharp in practice. Appleman said that the team will go home for Thanksgiving and will have about a week to prepare for the tournament upon their return. Their first NCAA tournament match will be played in the first weekend in December.
This year’s Ivy Championship marks the fourth title in the past eight years for the volleyball team and its eighth consecutive season with over ten wins in conference play.