The women’s volleyball team spent the weekend in the nation’s capital competing in the Pentagon against strong teams from across the country.
Playing in the Service Academy Challenge, the Elis (4–2, 0–0 Ivy) faced off against two of the national service academies, Air Force and Army, as well as No. 8 Stanford. The Bulldogs prevailed over Air Force and Army by scores of 3-0 and 3-1, respectively, but fell to the Cardinal in three sets.
This weekend was about more than just about volleyball. It marks the first time any Yale team has played inside the Department of Defense headquarters, and it certainly made an impression on the players.
“It was an honor to play in the Pentagon,” middle blocker McHaney Carter ’14 said.
The team went on a tour, as well as more than a few security checks, before setting up on a multi-purpose floor for the tournament.
Yale matched up first against the Cardinal. Stanford, aided by its height advantage over the Elis, won the first set by a score of 25-17 behind an efficient .348 hitting percentage. The Elis emphasized their opponents’ size in practice, according to outside hitter Brittani Steinberg ’17.
“We had to work on a lot of different shots to neutralize their height,” she said.
Yale came alive in the second set, bursting ahead to a 16-11 lead over the Cardinal. Captain Kendall Polan ’14 assisted on eight kills and produced two of her own as Yale forced a Stanford timeout. But Stanford, showing the poise of a national contender, regrouped and made a run to take the second set 25–20.
In the final set, Yale fell by a score of 25-18 as Stanford scored 17 kills on an impressive .436 percentage.
The match against Stanford is the second time this season the Elis have come up against a much taller team. At the Yale Invitational last weekend, the Bulldogs lost to Missouri by a score of 3–1 in a competitive match. The experience gained in both losses may prove useful against tall Ivy League teams like Princeton and Cornell.
“[Stanford is] obviously a very talented team,” Polan said. “I think we held our own really well. We competed every single set and everyone stepped up.”
Against Air Force, Carter said the Elis focused on keeping to the high level of play they demonstrated against Stanford. With a balanced attack — five Bulldogs had six or more kills — Yale prevailed over the Falcons 3–0. Particularly effective were Carter and middle blocker Jesse Ebner ’16, who hit .500 and .583 in the match, respectively.
The Elis finished the weekend on a strong note with a 3–1 comeback victory over Army on Saturday. After narrowly dropping the first set 25–23, the Elis flipped the switch and dominated the final three sets with scores of 25–14, 25–12, and 25–19.
The level of chemistry this team has already displayed should not be understated, according to Steinberg.
“I just think we trust each other really well,” Steinberg said. “When you can trust someone beside you the competition is less intimidating.”
The Elis will head to Pennsylvania for the Penn State Tournament on Friday to face Eastern Kentucky and Albany.