With road wins over Columbia University and Cornell University this weekend, the volleyball team proved two things: It can win close matches and also beat teams in the upper echelon of the Ivy League.
It was a pivotal weekend for the Bulldogs, who were in danger of falling into the league’s cellar. Instead the Elis moved into the middle of the pack.
On Friday night, the Bulldogs (9-8, 3-4 Ivy) overcame a late deficit and pulled out the fifth game in overtime to defeat the host Lions 3-2 (30-26, 25-30, 18-30, 30-20, 16-14).
“The win over Columbia was sheer perseverance and incredible effort,” defensive specialist Jessica Kronstadt ’04 said. “We were focused on winning point-by-point, and with the step-by-step approach, the execution was much more seamless.”
On Saturday, Yale went to Ithaca, N.Y., and handed the Big Red (12-7, 5-3) its most lopsided league loss of the year with a 3-0 (30-27, 30-20, 30-20) drubbing.
“Everybody was stellar, and everybody contributed to the win,” Kronstadt said. “The middle hitters were unstoppable, [Jacqueline Becker’s ’06] setting was great, the passing was perfect, and the defense was phenomenal. Every aspect of the game was flawlessly executed.”
After taking the first game from the Lions, the Bulldogs dropped the next two but regrouped in time for the victory.
“It was kind of an ugly match. Neither team was playing their best until the fifth game,” coach Peg Scofield said. “At the beginning we were in control, but we had strings of points that put us behind.”
Taryn Gallup ’04, Renee Lopes ’06 and Jana Freeman ’05 spearheaded the Bulldog attack with 19, 18 and 15 kills respectively, while Gallup, Joey Lee ’03 and Becker each had over 20 digs. Their efforts helped the Bulldogs in the decisive fifth game, which went into overtime before the Bulldogs prevailed.
“The fifth game was a battle,” Scofield said. “The last few points were just amazing. It was a very exciting last few minutes.”
No late-game heroics were necessary against Cornell; the Bulldogs posted their most impressive victory of the season.
“We had a good win over Columbia. It was a good fight, but we took almost a brand new step forward against Cornell,” Scofield said. “We got in at 3 a.m., but we were totally able to focus, and our individual performers stepped up.”
The Cornell game began at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Lopes had 18 kills in 25 chances and made only two errors in posting a .640 hitting percentage. Gallup had 12 kills, and Becker added 39 assists to give her 90 for the weekend.
“Taryn [Gallup] and Renee [Lopes] were just unstoppable, and Joey [Lee] came up with some huge digs,” Scofield said. “[Renee Lopes’] execution was just dynamic; she was pounding the ball and played even better than the stats showed. We’re hoping that against the stronger teams in the league, like Harvard, Penn and Princeton, she’ll be able to maintain that average.”
With the victories, the Bulldogs are tied for fifth in the league with Brown, but remain just a mere game behind third place Cornell in the loss column. Half the league season remains, positioning the Bulldogs to make a run for the top instead of a fall to the bottom.