After an impressive 5–0 homestand, the Yale volleyball team (11–3, 5–0 Ivy) is back on the road.
The Elis will take on the Big Red (6–9, 2–3) today in Ithaca, N.Y. before heading down to Manhattan to match up with the Lions (4–10, 2–3).
As they approach the two-year anniversary of their last conference game loss, the Bulldogs face added pressure to continue their improbable winning streak. But according to middle blocker McHaney Carter ’14, the team’s focus is always on the next match.
“It’s definitely a one game at a time mentality,” Carter said. “We go into every match wanting to win, but we definitely look at each team separately.”
Currently, Yale sits comfortably atop the Ivy League standings with a perfect 5–0 record. Three spots below the Elis, Cornell and Columbia are entangled in a four-way tie with Penn and Princeton. In the competitive Ivy League conference, however, records are not always the best indicator of ability.
“Both teams are very strong this year,” said middle blocker Jesse Ebner ’16. “We’re going to have to come out strong and with a lot of energy.”
Last year, Yale was able to sweep Cornell in straight sets without much difficulty, averaging a spectacular 0.333 hitting percentage for the match. After a moderately competitive first set, during which Cornell managed to narrow the deficit to three, the Elis comfortably won the next two sets by double digits.
Captain Kendall Polan ’14 was particularly effective. She completed her third straight triple-double, producing 14 kills, 21 assists, and 17 digs on a scorching 0.480 hitting percentage. Setter Kelly Johnson ’16 added eight kills and 23 assists, while libero Maddie Rudnick ’15 led the team with 18 digs.
Against Columbia, a diversified offense and a tough defense led the Elis to victory. Yale boasted six players with seven or more kills and four with 14 or more digs.
After a lackluster first set, in which the Lions fell to the Bulldogs 25–14, the Elis were pushed to their limits in sets two and three. In the second set, the Elis overcame a 20–18 deficit with the help of Polan and Johnson. Polan assisted on two straight kills to tie the set at 20 before blocking a kill attempt by Columbia’s leading scorer to take the lead. Johnson was then subbed in and she assisted on four kills as the Elis came from behind to win 25–22. In the final set, the Bulldogs held a small lead, but had to fend off a late run by the Lions to complete the sweep.
This time the Elis are on a roll once more — they have lost just two of their last 17 sets — but Ebner said playing on the road always poses a challenge.
“[It’s difficult] preparing yourself in the same way you would at home,” Ebner said. “You’re not in your own space; you’re in the hotel or [on] the bus for the whole day, so it’s hard to get yourself mentally fit.”
The team is well aware of the trials and tribulations that come with playing away from home. But, as always, the Bulldogs are ready and willing to rise to the occasion.
“We will have some great matches this weekend,” said outside hitter Erica Reetz ’14. “It’s our first full Ivy weekend on the road, so it’ll be a great challenge for us to deliver away from our home court and home crowd.
The Elis will take on Cornell today at 5 p.m.