The Bulldogs’ volleyball team is missing something, and with an Ivy League double-header quickly approaching this weekend, they hope they can find it fast.
Last Friday, the squad intended to exact revenge for a loss to Brown (7-7, 2-0 Ivy) that captain Carissa Abbott ’02 termed “embarrassing” two weeks ago. But the Bears had none of it, defeating Yale (6-5, 0-2 Ivy) again at their own Brown Invitational, 3-1. The Elis went on to split two matches the next day, finishing the tournament at 1-3.
After the third match, the team met to search for answers.
“It was sort of a disappointing weekend,” defensive specialist Joey Lee ’03 said. “Actually there is no ‘sort of’ about it; it was very disappointing.”
In each match, the Bulldogs had trouble finishing out tight games.
Against Brown, Yale failed to muster a decisive lead in the first two games, allowing the Bears to rally late in each, 30-27 and 31-29.
In the third game, the Elis surged well ahead before Brown made its late move. By then it was too late and the Bulldogs held out 30-16, to reach 1-2 in the match.
But a solution to Brown’s attack proved ephemeral once again in the fourth game. Yale was unable to sustain the scoring and ultimately squandered the contest.
“Every time I have looked back, I can’t think of one thing we didn’t do,” outside hitter Dana Loberg ’03 said.
Loberg finished the match with four kills and 15 digs, while Abbott notched nine kills.
“Against Brown, we really didn’t play that poorly,” Lee said. “Coach [Peg Scofield] has said we have a problem finishing games, and this match was definitely a case of it.”
In the tournament’s second day, the Bulldogs finally tasted victory, dropping Texas A & M-Corpus Christi 3-1, but that taste was soured later in the evening by a lopsided loss to St. Peters.
Against St. Peters, the Bulldogs never staged a mentionable attack, falling 30-23, 30-20 and 30-15.
Heading back to the drawing board on the heels of such a disappointing campaign in Providence, the squad is not sure what is missing.
Their starting squad is peppered with rookies, but the freshmen are posting solid numbers. Middle blocker Lauren Burke ’05, who has played in every game this season, leads the team with a hitting percentage of .265. She had 10 kills in the victory versus Texas A & M. Outside hitter Jana Freeman ’05 is second to Abbott on the team with 104 kills.
Some of the team’s veterans confirm that inexperience has not been a hindrance.
“The freshmen have been amazing,” Loberg said.
Nor is conditioning, they say. Team members say they are in better shape than ever; last week’s practices were among the most grueling this season.
So what can the squad do to ensure it will finish games strong and salvage it’s Ivy League record? “If we could answer that question, we’d be winning games,” Lee said.
Whatever the solution is, there is scant time to implement it. In a rare move, Scofield cancelled Monday night’s practice.
“We just needed a rest,” Burke said.
And this weekend, Harvard and Dartmouth travel to New Haven for Friday night and Saturday afternoon games, respectively, at Payne Whitney Gymnasium.
The Big Green (6-5, 1-0 Ivy) is coming of its first win against Harvard (6-3, 0-1 Ivy) in three years, a stunner at the Crimson Classic in Cambridge. The Cantabs salvaged the weekend, though, with wins over Georgia State and Binghamton, to finish first in the tournament.
The Bulldogs are already in last place in the Ivy League at 0-2, but this weekend will likely determine who emerges as the team to beat. In the meantime, the Elis will try to regroup and address the slow finishes that have cost them so many matches this season.