After dropping weekend matches at Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania, the volleyball team has one match left on its schedule: Brown on Wednesday.
While this pairing of Ivy League fourth-place teams has no bearing on the league’s picture, the Bulldogs will be playing for two goals: a winning overall record and a .500 league mark. At 12-12 (6-7 Ivy), Yale can earn a moral victory with a victory, which is a small consolation prize for a season with high hopes. But mentally, the one-game difference does matter.
“It would be really nice for team morale to finish over .500,” Alison Lungstrum ’04 said. “Brown is definitely a team we can beat, and it would be so nice to go out on a winning note.”
The Brown match became more significant after the Bulldogs again failed to make headway against the league’s elite. On Friday, Princeton (17-5, 10-3) pulled out a 3-1 (27-30, 30-13, 30-27, 30-27) victory. The following afternoon, Penn (21-4, 12-1) clinched the Ivy League championship with a 3-0 (30-27, 30-28, 30-15) triumph.
For the Bulldogs, it was a weekend of frustration. After taking the first game against the Tigers, Yale fell down convincingly in the second and was unable to prevail in either of the tight final two games.
“After the first game against Princeton, the second game was pretty flat,” said defensive specialist Jessica Kronstadt ’04. “That’s a problem that’s been plaguing us throughout the year: in individual games against opponents who are better, we couldn’t quite finish.”
Jana Freeman ’05 led Yale with 17 kills; Lauren Burke ’05 added 15. In their new roles as both setters and hitters, Jacqueline Becker ’06 had 32 assists while Alison Lungstrum ’04 added 14.
Becker used to be the team’s sole setter. Now, Becker shares those duties with Lungstrum, freeing Becker to attack.
Against Penn, the Bulldogs went up 20-13 in the second game, only to see the lead slip away. The outcome of the third game seemed a formality.
“Both the other teams were seasoned, and we have a young line-up,” Lungstrum said. “They’re just really experienced and consistent.”
The new lineup paid some dividends but was not polished to make enough of an impact.
“The rotation tries to fix a few of the problems we had been having throughout the season,” Lungstrum said. “It’s basically done for blocking purposes on the right side. We’re both setting and we’re both hitting. We hadn’t done well against Penn or Princeton the first time, so this was a new thing to try.”
Becker has adjusted rapidly to her new role. After leading the team in assists against Princeton, she had the team high in kills against Penn with 10. She also chipped in 14 assists. Lungstrum had six kills and 18 assists.
Concluding their season Wednesday against Brown (10-15, 6-7), the Bulldogs have a chance to end on a positive note. A win would give Yale sole possession of fourth place; a loss would drop Yale to a fifth-place tie with Cornell.
The Bulldogs have now swept the teams below them in the standings (Cornell, Dartmouth and Columbia) and have been swept by the teams above them (Penn, Princeton and Harvard). A split with the Bears would give the Elis a winning record and send them into the offseason on a positive note.