Although the volleyball team’s primary preseason goal of winning the Ivy League may no longer be achievable, the Bulldogs are still working their way toward the top of the league picture.
With home victories this weekend over Cornell and Columbia, the Elis (12-9, 6-5 Ivy) pushed their league record over .500 and now stand tied with Brown for fourth. Yale can gain ground on two of the top three teams this weekend when it visits Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania.
The weekend sweep almost identically mirrored the events of two weeks ago, when the Bulldogs squeaked past the Lions before romping by the Big Red. Only this time, the order was reversed.
Friday, the Bulldogs trounced Cornell 3-0 (30-18, 30-18, 30-16) before surviving another five-game match against Columbia with a 3-2 (30-22, 27-30, 30-28, 22-30, 15-12) victory.
Yale’s first victory over Cornell came with the Big Red sitting at 5-2 in the league. With two more losses over the weekend, Cornell (13-11, 5-7) has plummeted to sixth in the Ivies.
For the second time this autumn, the Big Red had no answer for the Bulldog attack, allowing a .436 hitting percentage while compiling only a .087 percentage of its own.
“We really got our offense running against Cornell like the last time,” Yale head coach Peg Scofield said. “We started off extremely well attacking, the element Cornell can’t really handle, and they couldn’t turn it around on us and hit the spots in our game that were less strong.”
Taryn Gallup ’04 was unstoppable, recording 12 kills with zero errors in 15 attempts for a single-game school-record .800 hitting percentage. She also contributed three aces and six digs.
“Against Cornell, our blocking was strong, and our offense was clicking,” defensive specialist Joey Lee ’03 said. “When that happens, nothing can stop us. The thing with our team is getting it all going at the same time. That’s been the story of our team: inconsistency.”
Jana Freeman ’05 led the Elis with 13 kills, and Renee Lopes ’06 added nine.
Columbia (8-17, 1-11) may have an abysmal record, but the Lions have now pushed the Bulldogs to the limit twice before ultimately succumbing.
“They were able to keep their offense running despite our attack, and they made a match of it again,” Scofield said. “They’re a very good team, and they only have a horrible record because the league is so dense and they’ve probably had some bad luck. We have to make sure we keep up the pressure when the other team steps up.”
Freeman had 26 kills in the marathon, and Lopes added 23. Lauren Burke ’05 had 11 kills for a .562 hitting percentage.
Having swept Dartmouth, Cornell and Columbia, the Bulldogs have racked up all six of their league wins against the league’s lower echelon. This weekend, the Bulldogs face the third-place Tigers and the league-leading Quakers and have a chance to prove themselves against better teams.
“It’s wonderful what we’ve done, but the real goal for this week is to knock off a team ahead of us,” Scofield said. “We’ve solidified where we are, but we should be able to challenge higher-ranked teams.”
Before that, the Bulldogs will play their last out-of-conference match of the season tonight at Hofstra University (22-5).
“They’re a better team than both Penn or Princeton, so it should be a good tune-up for the final weekend,” Lee said.