The Yale women’s volleyball team is winless in conference play after losing a 3-2 nail-biter to Brown last Saturday. This week, the Bulldogs face even greater obstacles to winning their first Ivy League match.

The Elis (5-4, 0-1 Ivy) will play host to three-time Ivy defending champion Penn (6-4, 0-1 Ivy) Friday and Princeton (10-3, 0-1) Saturday at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. Either the Tigers or the Quakers have won the league title the past five years.

“We’re really optimistic and confident that we can come away with two wins this weekend,” middle blocker Renee Lopes ’06 said. “We just have to play aggressive and serve well. We’ve been working a lot on teamwork in practice and getting back to the basics and feeling each other out. I think we’re ready.”

Based on previous records, Penn will prove to be the harder challenge. Yale has not won a match against the Quakers in three years, and has only won one game during that time.

Middle blocker Adele Sweetnam ’06 said Penn’s past record against the Bulldogs will only help Yale.

“In our minds, we are the underdogs just because of our past three years with Penn, and I think that’s going to make us fight harder,” she said.

The Bulldogs will have to rely on the usual contributions from captain Jana Freeman ’05, who posted 18 kills and 21 digs against the Bears. “[Freeman} is definitely going to lead us throughout the matches,” Sweetnam said. “She’s gotten us psyched up to play this weekend and I think she’s really excited to have the chance to play Penn and Princeton.”

Outside hitter Shannon Farrell ’07, who notched 13 kills and 17 digs against Brown, will also play a major role. Both Farrell and Freeman have recorded five double-doubles this fall.

Last weekend’s game also saw the rise of Kali Nelson ’08, who made the Ivy League Weekly Honor Roll for her career-high 11 kills and seven digs to go with a .258 hitting percentage.

This weekend, Yale will have the advantage of being at home. The Bulldogs have not lost a single game in the Amphitheater after sweeping Sacred Heart, Wagner and Manhattan Sept. 24-25 at the Yale Classic.

“We are really excited to be home against these two teams,” Sweetnam said. “It’s the perfect opportunity to show [Penn and Princeton] who we are this year, especially after coming off the match last week.”