The volleyball team wanted to make history, and they wanted to do it as quickly as possible.
In just two hours and 11 minutes of total play, the Bulldogs (18–5, 14–0 Ivy) swept Harvard and Dartmouth 3–0 to become just the second team to go undefeated in Ivy League play since the conference converted to a 14-match schedule in 2001.
The two victories extended Yale’s win streak to 15 matches, a run dating back to a sweep of Albany on Sept. 19.
“We have really been playing with confidence,” setter Kendall Polan ’14 said. “We all give 100 percent and nobody on the team is ever slacking. It’s really nice to play with a group of girls who all have a common passion for the game, and it’s been a really fun year.”
The Bulldogs finish the season as Ivy League champions for the fourth time in the last five seasons and will head to the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year. Yale steamrolled the opposition en route to the title, losing just six sets out of 48 played in total and outhitting their opponents .237 to .152 overall.
The Elis were particularly dominant this weekend and outscored Harvard (10–16, 7–7) and Dartmouth (2–22, 1–13) by a combined score of 150–80.
But the weekend did not get off to a good start. Middle blocker Jesse Ebner ’16, who is currently seventh in the conference in hitting percentage and sixth in service aces per set, suffered a sprained ankle during Thursday’s practice and could not play against Harvard or Dartmouth. Head coach Erin Appleman said that although Ebner will be out about a week, the team adjusted well without her.
“[McHaney Carter ’14] has been starting for us on and off so it hasn’t really been that big of an adjustment,” Appleman said. “We have a lot of people that can go in and play a lot of minutes and do a good job. Mac hit unbelievably tonight and did a fantastic job.”
On Friday night, outside hitter Mollie Rogers ’15 continued her hot play from last weekend to lead the Bulldogs to a victory. She logged 13 kills on just 25 attempts and chipped in 13 digs defensively.
The Crimson only managed to compete in the opening set of the match. Although they fell into an early 4–0 hole, Harvard managed to pull within 21–19 following a kill from outside hitter Taylor Docter. But the Bulldogs responded with four straight points, capped off with a kill from Carter, to take a 25–19 victory.
Following consecutive sets in which they converted 14–4 leads to 25–10 victories, the Bulldogs received the Ivy League championship trophy in front of the home crowd. Yale had clinched the title the prior weekend with a win over Princeton on Nov. 3.
“Getting the trophy on Friday and having all of our alumni there was special for the program,” outside hitter Gabby Bird-Vogel ’15 said. “It was a lot different than last year when we received it at Harvard. This year, we could tell we were representing the school and bringing something back for Yale.”
On Saturday night the Bulldogs matched the 2007 Princeton Tigers as the only team ever to go undefeated in Ivy League play since 2001 with another 3–0 win, this time against Dartmouth.
As the team’s last home date of the season, the match was preceded by a brief ceremony to honor the team’s lone senior, captain Haley Wessels ’13. Wessels went on to record 10 kills and two solo blocks to hold down the middle for Yale.
Polan had one of her most efficient matches of the season for the Bulldogs as well. She recorded a match-high 14 kills on .667 hitting to go along with a match-high 18 assists to lead Yale to its fastest victory since at least 2006, with a match time of just one hour and 10 minutes.
The Bulldogs will have a few weeks off until the NCAA tournament begins. The date and the location of their first-round match will be announced Sunday, Nov. 25.