Coming off a road sweep of Columbia and Cornell, the volleyball team aimed to continue its ascent toward the top of the Ivy League on campus this weekend.
The Bulldogs’ two opponents sat at opposite ends of the league: Dartmouth in the cellar and Harvard in the attic.
The weekend started off well. Friday night, the Bulldogs extended their win streak to three with a 3-1 (30-27, 30-23, 30-32, 30-21) victory over the Big Green. But the Crimson effectively ended the Elis’ already slim shot at a league title with a 3-0 (30-21, 34-32, 30-21) win the following afternoon.
“Harvard is a much better team than Dartmouth, and we played better against them,” Lindsey Stimpson ’03 said. “Against Dartmouth, we stayed focused until the end, but the level of effort didn’t need to be as high. With Harvard, our level of play stepped up a notch, but we needed to step it up two more notches to pull out the victory.”
Outside hitter Kelly McAlearney ’05 said the Bulldogs (10-9, 4-5 Ivy) lacked the intensity they needed to compete with the Crimson.
“We came out and dominated against Dartmouth, but against Harvard, it was apparent from the beginning that we didn’t have the same attitude on the court,” McAlearney said. “The last time we played them, we thought we shouldn’t have lost in three games, and granted that it’s Harvard and there’s huge competition there just being that they were the opponent, we just were not cohesive enough as a team.”
In Friday’s match against Dartmouth, Yale dominated the net as Jana Freeman ’05, Renee Lopes ’06, Taryn Gallup ’04 and McAlearney overpowered the Big Green defenders, each finishing with double digit kill totals. Joey Lee ’03 led the defense with 20 digs.
“Our focus on the court was incredible against Dartmouth,” defensive specialist Jessica Kronstadt ’04 said. “Even though we lost the third game, there were very few lapses in concentration. We were able to put together strings of points so effectively that from the start we were in complete control of the game.”
But the Crimson defense was more prepared for the Bulldog hitters, recording 13 team blocks to the Bulldogs’ mere two. Freeman led the team with 20 kills while Gallup added 10.
With an Ivy League crown no longer a realistic hope, the Bulldogs, tied for fifth in the league with Brown, hope to remain focused on the final stretch.
“While the championship may not be in reach, we have to keep in mind that there are five more Ivy League matches to play and how nice it would be to avenge some of the losses we’ve had,” Kronstadt said.
Stimpson agreed, saying that maintaining determination is essential.
“It could be a difficult situation, because this past weekend was our chance to beat Harvard, get closer to the top of the league and upset the standings a little bit,” Stimpson said. “Now we need to realize the season is still important, even though we’re not in the running for the championship.”
The first test will come this weekend when the Elis host Cornell and Columbia. The two New York Ivy schools will attempt to repay the Bulldogs’ favor from two weeks before.
“We just need to come out with a good, strong team attitude,” McAlearney said. “We really came alive against Cornell last weekend and were able to pull together for the first time as a team. We dominated then, and if we can play like that, I know we can be successful the rest of the way.”