VOLLEYBALL | Road trip looms for Bulldogs

Setter Kelly Johnson ’16, right, is averaging 2.60 kills per set.
Setter Kelly Johnson ’16, right, is averaging 2.60 kills per set. Photo by Blair Seideman.

It is time for the endless New York swing.

The volleyball team will log almost 12 hours on the road this weekend when it travels to Cornell and Columbia for its second and third Ivy matches of the season.

“It’s tough when you have a long road trip, but it’s also kind of fun because we bond on the bus so it’s also a team building experience,” outside hitter Mollie Rogers ’15 said. “We try to make it fun.”

The Bulldogs (5–5, 1–0 Ivy) opened their conference schedule last weekend with a Saturday matchup against Brown. Although Yale took away a 3–1 victory in that match, Brown made Yale work for the win by capturing the third set and pushing the Elis past 25 points in two others.

As has been the case for most of the season, setter Kendall Polan ’14 will lead the Bulldogs’ efforts. Polan was named the conference Player of the Week for the second time in four weeks, which already matches her total from last year. Polan had triple-doubles against Albany and Brown and logged 2.86 kills per set, 8.43 assists per set and a .429 hitting percentage.

Last season, Yale beat both Cornell and Columbia twice, but lost three sets to the Lions. That included a tightly contested 3–2 Yale win in New Haven in which Columbia rallied from a 0–2 deficit to force a fifth set.

“We work on preparing for each team like they’re our hardest opponent,” Rogers said. “We learned that from our five-set match with [Columbia] last year.”

This weekend’s opponents have already played each other this season. Columbia (6–4, 1–0 Ivy) came out of that battle with a decisive 3–0 victory, in which they outscored Cornell 75–56. That match adds to a trend that has seen Columbia rise to new heights and Cornell reach new lows since 2009.

The Lions have climbed out of the conference basement over the last few seasons and been a dangerous match-up for the Bulldogs. From 2007 to 2009, Columbia compiled a 3–39 Ivy record, which included two 0–14 seasons. But over the past two seasons, the Lions have gone 17–11 in Ivy play and finished third in the conference both years.

On the other hand, Cornell (3–8, 0–1 Ivy) appears to be continuing a slide that has seen them fall from the conference elite. The Big Red went 24–4 in conference play during 2005 and 2006 and won the Ivy title each year. But since 2009, Cornell has compiled a meager 8–34 record in Ancient Eight play.

This year, the Lions will likely prove to be the more difficult match-up. Columbia has won four straight matches against Colgate University, University of Rhode Island, Hofstra University and Cornell. The Lions and the Bulldogs have played one common opponent, Texas A&M University from the SEC. Yale managed to take a set from the Aggies whereas Columbia was swept, perhaps indicating an advantage for the Bulldogs. Setter Kelly Johnson ’16 said that the team tries to ignore this kind of comparison.

“We try to put it in the back of our mind,” she said. “Columbia is a great team and they might have just had an off game. We just try to look at the strategy for our side and focus on us instead of focusing on them.”

The Bulldogs begin the weekend by traveling to Cornell for a 7 p.m. match Friday night and follow that up with a 5 p.m. match at Columbia on Saturday.

Comments