The second time around, the volleyball team can do no wrong.
After going winless during the first half of the Ivy schedule, the Bulldogs have reeled off three straight league wins, including two over teams they had lost to earlier in the season. Yale (9-10, 3-7 Ivy) followed its first Ivy League win against Cornell last week with an authoritative 3-0 victory over Dartmouth (7-12, 2-8 Ivy) Friday at Leede Arena. Saturday, the team continued this winning streak, defeating Harvard (9-11, 2-8 Ivy) 3-1 at the Malkin Athletic Center.
From the outset Saturday, it was clear the match would not be a repeat of the team’s meeting in October, which Harvard won 3-2.
Despite a strong effort by Harvard’s Erin Denniston, who had 18 kills in the match to become Harvard’s all-time kill leader, the Bulldogs came out strong and put together their third consecutive victory.
Yale took the first game 30-28 and jumped out to a lead of 29-22 in the second. In a loss ominously reminiscent of the first Harvard match, the Elis surrendered this lead, dropping nine straight points in a 31-29 defeat.
Given Yale’s self-admitted previous inability to finish out a match, this second game loss could have been a deathblow. But the difference between the Bulldogs of two weeks ago and those of now became apparent in the succeeding frames. The Bulldogs bounced back in the third game, 30-27, and disposed of the Crimson with a 30-22 victory in the fourth.
Four Yale players had at least 12 kills in the match, with Kelly McAlearney ’05 leading the way with 17.
The two teams’ momentums coming in to the match was a key factor in the outcome; this was Yale’s third straight win and Harvard’s sixth straight loss.
“The win against Cornell played a big part in our team morale this past week and this weekend,” McAlearney said. “We had known all season that we could win against the other Ivies, we just hadn’t put it together yet, and this weekend we were able to keep it together.”
Friday’s Dartmouth match was the first chance the Yale team had to test out their rejuvenated confidence and vigor. The Bulldogs pounded the Big Green into submission, routing Dartmouth 3-0 after a 3-1 loss earlier in the year.
After a tough first frame in which Yale prevailed, 36-34, the Bulldogs dominated the match, going on to a 30-23 win in the second game and a 30-28 victory in the third.
Several Yale players were especially strong, including Dana Loberg ’03, who had 21 digs, and captain Carissa Abbott ’02 and McAlearney, who each had 11 kills. Dartmouth’s Ashley Dean came up with 18 kills and 18 digs but was unable to stand up against Yale’s solid team execution.
“We just played well together,” Alison Lungstrum ’04 said. “There was a lot of team chemistry on the court.”
Following the two victories, the Elis are optimistic about the rest of the season.
“If we can continue to apply what we have learned in these last few matches to the rest of the season, there’s nothing holding us back from winning the rest of our games,” McAlearney said.
Lungstrum agreed, though she added that maintaining the team’s high spirits was key as well.
“We have to stay focused, but we have to keep having fun too,” Lungstrum said.
The Bulldogs have five Ivy League matches left in the season, with their next coming against Cornell Nov. 9.