In a wild five-game match Friday night, the Yale and Brown volleyball teams seemed to forget that “winning by two” is just a rule, not the norm.
Three of the contest’s five games entered overtime. The Bulldogs prevailed twice but dropped the deciding fifth game to lose their Ivy League opener to the Bears in Providence, R.I.
The defending league champion, Brown stumbled out of the gates and entered the match with a 2-8 record. But the hosts made key adjustments after dropping the first two games and rebounded to a 3-2 victory (30-32, 43-45, 30-26, 30-20, 16-14).
“They found a couple of holes in our defense, and they made some lineup changes that we didn’t adjust to,” said Yale head coach Peg Scofield, whose team fell to 6-5 (0-1 Ivy). “One of their outside hitters dominated games four and five, and they switched their middle hitter to a lefty and our blocks didn’t adjust.”
Yale also struggled to develop an offensive threat down the stretch.
“Brown was playing an extraordinary game of defense, and we were playing with them,” Scofield said. “We just didn’t make the necessary adjustments. The game showed us we can hang defensively with one of the better teams in the league.”
Even with momentum on their side following wins in the first two games, the Bulldogs found Brown’s defense and mental toughness impenetrable. The Bears managed 11 team blocks, while Yale had just six.
“They were demoralized after that 45-43 game, but they kept their heads,” Scofield said. “We need to learn to not hang our heads after we make mistakes. In Game 4, we were not emotionally as strong as we needed to be.”
Brown’s offensive attack greatly improved as the contest progressed. In the first and second games, the Bears converted 13.8 and 15.4 percent of their offensive touches, respectively. In the final three games, Brown was successful in over a third of its attack attempts.
Only in the final game did Yale convert over 30 percent of its offensive finishing attempts.
In the five-game marathon, Taryn Gallup ’04 spearheaded the attack with 22 kills while Renee Lopes ’06 added 16 and Jana Freeman ’05 contributed 12.
Jacqueline Becker ’06 set another career high with 62 assists while Gallup, Becker and Jessica Kronstadt ’04 led the team in defensive digs.
Scofield said the team can build on the showing and still compete for the Ivy League title. The Bulldogs head back on the road this weekend against Harvard and Dartmouth.
“The league is very even,” Scofield said. “It’s up for grabs. We’re not counting ourselves out at all.”
Dana Loberg ’03, who had 17 kills and 14 digs in the loss, said she was not worried about a possible letdown next weekend.
“We played well, but Harvard and Dartmouth might not be as tough,” she said. “We really need to prepare for Penn and Princeton the next weekend. Those should be our next two tough matches.”