The Bulldogs have lost their bite. After finishing fourth in the Ivy League last season, with an 18-8 overall record, a cataclysm of losses this year has left them in the cellar with a 0-4 Ivy record — the worst in the league.

The Bulldogs originally viewed this season as one into which they could really sink their teeth. Six veterans returned, with only three starters having graduated. One of those returning was captain Carissa Abbott ’02, who had been named second team all-Ivy two years in a row.

Despite this potential, the early-going was shaky, with two immediate Ivy losses. But Yale’s lackluster performance could be attributed to its schedule. The Bulldogs faced Brown in their first two games of the season, and dropped both contests. The Bears are now 4-0 in the Ivies and the front-runner for the league title.

Last weekend was particularly rough for Yale. Friday, the Elis dropped a close match to Harvard, 3-2, and the next day they were dominated by Dartmouth, 3-1.

And this weekend could be the team’s last chance to revive its flagging confidence. The Elis face Pennsylvania (8-4, 2-1 Ivy) in Philadelphia Friday and Princeton (6-7, 0-3 Ivy) in New Jersey Saturday. A win could break the Bulldogs out of the doghouse and give them a much-needed mental boost.

To achieve this shake-up, Yale must go on the attack — something head coach Peg Scofield has been trying to get her players to do since the opening week of the season. While the team has 104 serving aces and 781 defensive digs — both better than its competitors’ respective 65 and 735 — its number of kills is only 627, far short of the 720 its adversaries have posted.

The Bulldogs do have the ability to go on the attack. Along with Abbott, Taryn Gallup ’04 has been a force at the net. The sophomore has had a breakthrough season with her momentum-changing spikes. Freshmen Lauren Burke ’05 and Jana Freeman ’05, who is second on the team in kills, have also been impressive in spurts.

But Yale needs to turn things around quickly during the regular season — there is no opportunity for post-season redemption. This year marks the first time Ivy volleyball will be without a season-ending tournament, so final standings will be decided based on regular season results.