If having their Ivy Leage-record winning streak broken was supposed to leave them dejected, no one seems to have told the Elis. Yale volleyball remains focused on its ultimate goal: winning the Ivy League.
After a heartbreaking loss at Harvard last Saturday, the Elis (15–4, 9–1 Ivy) return to New Haven for a final pair of regular season home games against Columbia and Cornell.
For some of the younger players, like outside hitter Brittani Steinberg ’17, the Harvard loss represents the very first in their college careers. But according to Steinberg, the defeat has only made the team more determined to succeed.
“It’s definitely disappointing to have that loss,” she said. “But it makes us more motivated to work harder in practice so that we can focus on improving.”
That mindset has permeated the entire team, according to libero Maddie Rudnick ’14.
Despite the loss being a new experience, Rudnick said there has been no need to remind the younger players of the squad’s ultimate aim.
“Our goal is wining the Ivy League,” Rudnick said. “I think we’re all still focused on that. We haven’t had to talk to any of the freshmen or sophomores about staying focused because we all realize what we have to attain.”
Tomorrow, the Elis will take on the Lions (14–5, 3–7), who have lost their last four matches. The streak includes a 3–1 loss to Yale on Oct. 19 in which Columbia prevented a sweep with a late run in the third set. But the Elis would not be denied. Yale dominated the final set, trailing for only a single point as it cruised to a 10-point victory.
Captain Kendall Polan ’14 recorded a huge double-double with 48 assists and 22 digs, leading both teams in those two categories. Steinberg was an offensive tour-de-force, contributing 20 kills on an incredible 0.514 hitting percentage. Rudnick provided her usual stellar defense with 17 digs.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs will host the Big Red (7–13, 3–7) for Senior Night, the last home game of the season. For the seniors on the team, the match offers a reflective moment and an opportunity to reminisce on their freshman years, according to outside hitter Erica Reetz ’14.
According to Steinberg, Saturday night holds its own significance for the younger players — the game represents a chance to show appreciation for their teammates who will graduate in May.
“The seniors are such great role models,” she said. “We really want to give something back. What’s better than a win for their last home game ever?”
Cornell enters the weekend having lost four of its last five games. Its only win in that span was a 3–2 decision against Columbia. In the last Yale-Cornell matchup, the Elis dispatched the Big Red in three sets.
After dropping the first set 25–12, Cornell became more aggressive and competed hard the rest of the match. The Big Red held a four point lead late in the third set, but the Bulldogs went on a vicious 7–0 run, which included two service aces by Rudnick, to take the lead. Yale won the set 25–22.
The Elis have just a handful of matches before the end of the season, but the objective remains the same.
“We always keep our eye on the next team,” Reetz said. “This weekend is no different. We’re all really focused on coming out and playing well. We’re really excited to be back at home and we’re looking forward to having some familiar faces in the stands.”
The Elis will play Columbia tomorrow at 7 p.m.