Payne Whitney Gymnasium was full of excitement this past weekend as Yale volleyball (6-7, 0-4 Ivy) hosted archrival Harvard (8-4, 2-1 Ivy) Friday and the Dartmouth Big Green (7-6, 2-1 Ivy) Saturday.
With Eli parents visiting for the weekend,the home crowd was packed. But the Bulldogs could not capitalize on their home court advantage — Yale lost to Harvard 3-2 and Dartmouth 3-1.
Yale got off to a quick start in Friday’s match as the team jumped out to an 11-1 lead. The momentum, however, soon shifted to the Crimson, who tied the score at 25. After a hard-fought battle, the Elis dropped the first game, 30-28.
The second game was just as closely contested. Harvard took an early 7-2 lead, but the Bulldogs clawed back, and the two teams battled to a 30-30 tie. Harvard again eked out the frame, 35-33.
The crowd, hoping to stave off an Eli loss, became quite raucous at the start of the third game. The arena shook as Yale students rallied the rest of the fans with cheers and foot-stomping.
Yale was revived by the rowdy atmosphere. The Elis broke out to a 7-1 lead, and while Harvard fought back once again, Yale managed to cling to its lead, squeaking by the Crimson, 31-29.
In the fourth game, neither team led by more than two points until Yale broke away to win, 30-27.
The teams played the decisive fifth game with the same tenacious competition that characterized the match. But unfortunately for the Bulldogs, Harvard edged out Yale 15-13 in a hotly contested and abbreviated final frame.
Though disappointed, the players did not feel anything specific caused their loss to the Crimson. When asked why she thought the Bulldogs lost, team captain Carissa Abbott ’02 said “I don’t know. If I had that answer, we wouldn’t have lost.”
Saturday’s Dartmouth match followed right on the heels of the Harvard loss. The team seemed to have as much physical energy as they did the previous day. Mental fatigue, however, took a toll.
“We could have possibly been a little mentally upset [from the loss to Harvard],” said Dana Loberg ’03, who had 23 kills and 14 digs in the Harvard game.
Early on, Yale seemed to have corrected its mistakes from the previous night, and the Bulldogs held onto an early lead to win the first game, 30-26. As the match continued, however, Yale lost its vigor, falling to the Big Green 30-24 in the second game and 30-21 in the third.
Yale lost the fourth and final game, 30-27.
“I think we definitely could have beaten them,” Loberg said. “We just didn’t show up ready to play.”
Abbott was concerned by the losses but remained hopeful.
“Team morale is pretty low,” she said. “But we play 14 Ivy League games this year. It’s too early to tell how we’re going to do.”
Yale next plays at the University of Pennsylvania on Oct. 19.