There were two moments in the Yale volleyball team’s first two games Wednesday night when it looked like the Bulldogs had let non-conference opponent Central Connecticut back in the match. But both times, team captain Taryn Gallup ’04 took over, spiking shots down the line, off opponents and into the holes in the Blue Devils’ half of the court.

Behind Gallup’s match-high 17 kills, the Bulldogs (9-4, 1-2 Ivy) went up 2-0 and defeated the Blue Devils 3-1 (30-23, 30-24, 26- 30, 30-22).

With the first game tied at 10-10, Gallup came up with the back-to-back kills to cap off an 8-1 Bulldog run.

Central Connecticut (13-5) came out sloppy in game two, losing several points due to either miscommunication between its players or mis-struck balls. Blue Devil outside hitters Jennifer Cote and Chantelle Brown, who combined for 34 kills, helped make up for their teammates’ errors, leading the Blue Devils’ to take an 18-15 lead. But Gallup had the last word, coming up with five of Yale’s six unanswered kills to end the game.

“[Gallup] was fabulous,” head coach Erin Appleman said. “She had one of the best matches of her life.”

Jacqueline Becker ’06 saw Gallup had the hot hand, and a number of the setter’s 51 assists came off the team captain’s left fist.

“I was going to keep giving her the ball until her arm fell off,” Becker said. “They couldn’t stop anything she hit.”

But in the third game the Blue Devils adjusted to Gallup. On one point, Gallup wound up for a slam but Blue Devil Shannon Verity caught on right away and countered Gallup at the net to put Central Connecticut up by 7-2.

“We needed to come out of the locker room much better,” Appleman said. “I’m not comfortable with the fact that we came out with no enthusiasm.”

The Bulldogs came back to take the lead but had no answer for Cote and her Blue Devil teammates who got better and better at finding their star hitter.

Central Connecticut came out fired up in the fourth game. But once again, Gallup brought the Bulldogs back with two kills in a row to tie the score at 5-5. From that point on, Becker focused on setting up outside hitters Jana Freeman ’05 and Renee Lopes ’06 to help the Elis pull away.

Freeman showed off her leaping ability on 13 kills, while Lopes used her 6″1′ frame to come up with six apt blocks and several fluid slide kills.

“It’s good to know that one hitter can be having a good game, but that other hitters can step in,” Gallup said.

With a .304 team hitting percentage, the Bulldogs did improve on their sub-.200 hitting last weekend against the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton.

Still, Appleman and team members said they were disappointed with the team’s inability to put their opponent away earlier in the first two games and with their errors in game three.

“We are still struggling with performances as a whole,” Appleman said.

The Elis are aware that they will have to eliminate these lapses to beat the top teams in the Ivy League.

“We have the ability to beat teams pretty handily,” Gallup said. “It’s frustrating because as we get into Ivy League play, other teams won’t be so forgiving.”

Yale returns to Ivy League play this weekend on the road against the top and bottom of the conference. The Elis’ first match is on Friday at Columbia (0-12, 0-3). The following day, the Bulldogs will face Cornell (13-1, 3-0 Ivy). The Big Red is tied for first place with Pennsylvania and is undefeated at home this season.

Going into the weekend, Appleman is making sure Yale doesn’t look past the Lions.

“We have to look at Columbia first,” she said. “Every game in the Ivy League counts the same.”

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