The volleyball team is looking to maintain its standard of perfection this weekend with two critical Ivy League matches. The Bulldogs will need to prove their excellence, as their opponents will take advantage of any mistakes.

Yale (7-4, 2-0 Ivy) squares off first against Columbia (5-5, 0-1) today at 7 p.m. Although Columbia hasn’t managed an Ivy win, they are hungry to turn their even record into a winning one. The Lions’ loss last weekend to Cornell snapped a three-match winning streak that hinted the promise of a victorious season. Columbia is hungry for a win in general, but they are especially thirsty to defeat Yale for the first time since 2002.

Columbia sits in the middle of the road when it comes to Ivy talent. Amalia Viti is the team kills leader, averaging 3.21 per game, yet this is only 10th overall in the Ivy League. Also supporting the Lions’ ranks is Shannon Hunzicker, who boasts 9.19 assists per game, ninth in the league.

The Bulldogs’ overwhelming strength suggests that if they keep their wits about them, their win over Columbia will be smooth. Yale has shown some true freshman talent in players like outside hitter Alexis Crusey ’10, who is seventh in the Ivy League with 3.54 kills per game. First team All-Ivy honors star and outside hitter Shannon Farrell ’07 adds to Yale’s might with 4.05 kills per game. If numbers are any indicator, then Yale has a decided advantage.

Team members said they will not pay attention to past statistics, and they will be approaching Columbia with caution.

“In the past, they’ve been rebuilding, but they’ve got an older team and they will probably be the best team since I’ve been here,” libero Anja Perlebach ’07 said.

Yale’s match against Cornell (6-5, 1-0 Ivy) will be wholly different, as the Big Red boasts the 2005 Ivy Champion title. Joanna Weiss, the team’s star senior, landed 11 kills in Cornell’s win against Columbia. She is also second in the league for blocks with 1.44 per game. Elizabeth Bishop, second in the league waith 4.10 kills per game, also threatens to challenge the Yale team.

Yale and Cornell are closely matched in team statistics. Cornell and Yale are first and second in the league, respectively, for blocks. Cornell averages 3.19 per game; Yale averages 2.53. This game will certainly come down to mental fitness, seeing that the teams are nearly equal in talent.

Some players said they are particularly excited to take on the Big Red.

“Cornell has been a constant struggle for us,” outside hitter Nicole Perkins ’08 said. “We beat them out for the NCAA bid my freshman year and then they came back and narrowly won the Ivy championship last year, so Cornell in particular has special meaning for us.”

Yale head coach Erin Appleman said she will not treat the game against Cornell any different than the one against Columbia.

“We concentrate on our own game and own tempo and we just take one game at a time, “Appleman said. “Every game is as significant as any other.”