It’s hard to be perfect.
The women’s volleyball team found that out on Saturday night when their undefeated record in the Ivy League was tarnished by a talented Princeton Tiger squad.
The Bulldogs (12-5, 7-1 Ivy), unable to keep pace with the consistent and balanced play of Princeton (15-2, 5-2), fell at home, 3-1, on Saturday afternoon in front of a sizable Parents’ Weekend crowd. But they did make quick work of Penn the previous evening, downing the Quakers (7-11, 2-5) in three straight games.
The weekend was marked by several impressive individual performances, including personal records for the team’s two seniors. Captain and libero Anja Perlebach ’07 moved into second place on the all-time list for digs, notching 17 against Penn and 19 against Princeton. She is one of only two players in Yale history with 1,300 career digs.
Outside hitter Shannon Farrell ’07, who compiled 8 kills and 18 digs against Penn, reached 1,000 career kills in the game.
“Neither of us focus on it, it’s just a bonus,” Perlebach said. “We’re really just focused on the matches.”
Complete focus was a necessity in both matches this weekend, especially in Saturday’s loss (22-30, 30-28, 28-30, 24-30) against Princeton. The Tigers are clearly among the best in the Ivy League, and they proved to be Yale’s toughest test in the Ancient Eight this season.
Especially impressive was the Tigers’ precision and strength at the net. They seemed to find all of the holes in the Yale formation and did an excellent job of exploiting those openings. Princeton was led by the imposing right paw of Lindsay Ensign, who had 25 kills for the team. The sophomore middle blocker went toe to toe with Yale’s own powerful outside hitter, Alexis Crusey ’10, who had 24 kills in the match. Although the match was characterized by an abundance of ties and tight situations late in the games, the efforts of Crusey and others were not enough to bring home the victory.
“In matches like last night, it’s important to get over your mistakes quickly,” Perlebach said. “Every point is crucial, and you can’t dwell on mistakes because you don’t have time.”
Perlebach and Crusey both said they recognized that Princeton is a good team and that the Tigers brought their best to New Haven this weekend. When the Bulldogs visit the Garden State in two weeks, they will have to find a way to counter the hot Princeton offense and the momentum swings that may have done them in on Saturday.
“Teams are going to make runs,” head coach Erin Appleman said. “It’s important to balance the runs and hope your run is more significant than their [run].”
The team will also look forward to going to Penn, but for different reasons. The Elis outmatched the Quakers on Friday night, winning 30-28, 30-24, 30-21, even when not performing to their full ability.
Coach Appleman said she did not think her team played to its potential and cited the distraction of playing at home as a possible cause. She said she felt her team wasn’t ready to play in the beginning of each game and should get off to quicker starts.
“We know we get off to slow starts,” Crusey said. “It’s something we’ve been trying to work on for the majority of the season.”
Though the Elis did fall behind at the opening of all three games, they were able to overcome their early stumbles and rack up a solid win.
Despite the loss to Princeton on Saturday, the Bulldogs remain atop the Ivy League and will take their 7-1 Ancient Eight record into New York next weekend, playing Cornell on Friday and Columbia on Saturday.