VOLLEYBALL: Yale blocks Harvard, Dartmouth

Volleyball extended its Ivy League winning streak to 17 matches with convincing wins over Ancient Eight rivals Harvard and Dartmouth.

The Elis (9–3, 3–0 Ivy) spent their weekend dominating their matchups against Harvard (6–6, 1–2) and Dartmouth (7–8, 0–3), defeating both schools in straight sets.

The Bulldogs came to play against the rival Crimson on Friday. The match was likely the most lopsided Yale has had all season. The Elis held Harvard to negative kill percentages in two of three sets, as the top two Cantab scorers, outside hitter Kathleen Wallace and middle blocker Caroline Holte, went without a single kill between them.

The Elis outpaced the Crimson in every statistical category, recording more than double the number of kills, assists, digs and points as their opposition.

Outside hitter Mollie Rogers ’15 and middle blocker Jesse Ebner ’16 led the Bulldogs with 11 kills each. No Harvard player recorded more than four kills.

Team captain and setter Kendall Polan ’14 recorded 27 assists and 12 digs to go along with four kills, while setter Kelly Johnson ’16 just missed a triple double with eight kills, nine assists and seven digs.

“I think the whole team was just really excited,” outside hitter Brittani Steinberg ’17 said. “We also were just really prepared. I think we generated our own energy and we came out strong.”

In three sets against the Crimson, Yale trailed only once — Harvard got the step on them to start the second set 1–0, but the Elis scored the next six points.

Yale found more competition on Saturday in its match against Dartmouth, who entered the match having lost a five-set nail-biter against Brown.

Rogers again led the team with 14 kills as the Elis combined to hit an efficient .336 for the match. Polan exceeded her assist total from the previous night with 29, while libero Maddie Rudnick ’15 led the team with 14 digs. Steinberg rounded out the team with 12 kills on a .435 hitting percentage to go along with nine digs. Both marks were good for second highest on the team.

“The setters were getting me great one-on-one options,” Steinberg said. “The whole team contributed to how well I played. It wasn’t just me.”

The Big Green came out strong in the first set, going toe-to-toe with the Elis until the very end. With Yale leading 23–20, consecutive kills by opposite hitter Emily Astarita brought Dartmouth within one and forced a Yale timeout. Rogers then came to the rescue, scoring two kills to give Yale a narrow 25–23 victory in the set and a 1–0 lead in the match. Johnson said that the Bulldogs were prepared for a hard-fought match against the Big Green.

“We definitely expected a lot out of Dartmouth,” Johnson said. “We knew they were a very good team and that they were going to be gunning for us.”

Dartmouth continued to impress in the second set. The score was 20–19 after a kill by Astarita brought them within one. But consecutive blocks by middle blocker McHaney Carter ’14, followed by two straight kills from Rogers, were enough to put the Big Green away.

It’s a morale booster,” Steinberg said, referring to Carter’s two clutch blocks. “It affects the hitters on the other side; makes them more cautious. I think that was really a huge turnaround.”

Polan recorded 10 of her 29 assists in that set, while Steinberg connected for five kills.

The final set was a Yale volleyball clinic. The Elis stifled Dartmouth with defense — they held the Big Green to just five kills after giving up a combined 26 kills in the first two sets — while dismantling them on offense with 17 kills. The final score was 25–12.

“I think our mentality of staying calm and strong and playing our game just elevated us [over Dartmouth],” Johnson said. “At the end everything just came together.”

The Elis will next take on conference rivals Penn and Princeton in back-to-back nights this weekend. While the opponent is ever-changing, Steinberg said that the goal remains the same.

“We go into every single practice wanting to get better,” Steinberg said. “Every single day, every single touch of the ball, we’re striving to improve.”

The Elis will play Penn this Friday at 7 p.m.

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