Volleyball’s real season starts tonight.

After 10 matches of fine-tuning and preparation, the volleyball team (6-4) begins its fall in earnest with the Ivy League opener at Brown University at 7 p.m today.

The Bulldogs will not face the same Bear squad that tied for the league championship last season with the University of Pennsylvania. Brown is off to a sluggish 2-8 start and is coming off three losses over the weekend at the University of New Hampshire Tournament.

But coach Peg Scofield, who notched her 300th career victory in Tuesday’s victory over Fairfield University, said the Bears still pose problems.

“They have a very strong defense and run a varied attack,” Scofield said. “We’re going to have to throw different attacks at them to get the ball past their defense.”

Scofield attributed the Bears’ early season difficulties to injuries and unexpected personnel changes.

“I would never count them out because they are always in the top half of the league,” Scofield said. “But I wouldn’t say they’re the same team as last year. They have to prove themselves.”

After three weekend tournaments in which the Bulldogs tinkered their lineup in search of the most effective combinations, the team is ready for the next level.

“The start is just what I was hoping for,” Scofield said. “The two matches in D.C. [3-0 losses to both American University and Penn State University] didn’t take the wind out of our sails and actually brought our defense up a level and showed us how we could play. The matches against Central Connecticut and Stony Brook taught us about getting our blocks coordinated and ready faster.”

In their final tuneup before Ivy League play, the Elis defeated Fairfield 3-1 (30-24, 29-31, 30-22, 30-26) Tuesday night in the John J. Lee Amphitheater. In the final two games of that match, Yale jumped out to an early lead, only to see the Stags come back.

Tied 24-24 in the fourth game, Taryn Gallup ’04 ended a long point by finessing a kill just over a Stag block attempt, and the Bulldogs pulled away to seal the match.

Jana Freeman ’05 led the offensive attack with 22 kills while Gallup added 16 and Renee Lopes ’06 contributed 13.

“Fairfield was running faster transitions than we were used to,” Scofield said.Ê”They had a couple of strong hitters, but we isolated them and didn’t allow the whole team to have double-digit kills.”

Lindsey Stimpson ’03 was the defensive star with 22 digs while Jacqueline Becker ’06 added 56 assists, bringing her season total to 359 after 10 matches.

Scofield said she was impressed by her team’s ability to make adjustments on the fly.

“It wasn’t like Fairfield was doing things we couldn’t defend,” Scofield said. “When I called timeouts, there were specific things we needed to change in order to win, and the girls were able to do exactly what they needed to.”

With on-court chemistry high, the Bulldogs are optimistic about their chances in league play. Opening with a road victory over the defending league champions would be a good place to start.