As most Yalies were recovering from Harvard-Yale weekend, the volleyball team was busy closing out its season.
Despite having the home court advantage, the Bulldogs (3-11, 10-14 Ivy) were unable to overcome the University of Pennsylvania (11-3, 17-6), falling 3-0. The next day a rejuvenated squad put up a strong fight but still lost to Princeton (9-5, 15-9), 3-2.
The loss to the Tigers was particularly difficult for the Yale seniors.
“The past four years we haven’t beaten Princeton,” Lauren Burke ’05 said. “The seniors really had it in their hearts to beat them this time.”
The Bulldogs were impressive both on offense and defense. Captain Carissa Abbott ’02 and Kelly McAlearney ’05 both had 18 kills, while Joey Lee ’03 had 18 defensive digs.
After dropping the first and second games, 30-23 and 30-24, the Bulldogs came back to win the next two, 30-24 and 30-26. Going into the deciding frame, both momentum and determination were with the Yale team.
Yet in the end it was not enough. The Tigers, showing renewed aggression, secured a 15-11 victory in the fifth and final game.
“We really came back strong in the third and fourth,” Candace Green ’02 said. “But they had a run of points early in the fifth and we couldn’t get back.”
Overall the Yale team played solid volleyball, blocking more shots and making more kills than their rival. The Bulldogs were unable to put together key points, however.
“It was a really frustrating loss,” Burke said.
While Yale’s season finished on a disappointing note, Penn’s regular season closer against the Bulldogs was extremely gratifying for the Quakers. Yale was the only team standing between Penn and the Ivy League title.
“They had more motivation,” Burke said.
Yale proved no easy foe, however. The Elis challenged the Quakers on both offense and defense, dominating Penn in blocks and kills.
Penn still managed to put together three consecutive wins.
“We came out fired up and ready to win,” Green said. “They just played a much faster game than we were ready for.”
The 3-0 final was deceptively straightforward, however, as each game was decided by no more than 4 points, with scores of 30-28, 30-26 and 30-28.
The Bulldogs performance against the Quakers was stronger than it had been in past contests.
“We improved a lot,” Burke said of the difference between the matches. “The team became tighter.”
Burke contributed to the Yale effort with 11 kills and six of the Bulldogs’ nine blocks.
With the win, Penn tied Brown for first in the Ivies, eventually winning a playoff match to become the Ivy League champion. The Bulldogs ended their season tied for sixth in the league, three behind the third-place Tigers.
“We had a lot of ups and downs,” Burke said. “But toward the end we were playing well.”