A lot can change in two weeks.
On Oct. 20, the women’s volleyball team was undefeated and in first place in the Ivy League, having just dominated Penn on its home floor to move to 7-0. Since then, the Bulldogs have dropped three of their last five matches and now sit behind both Princeton and Cornell in the Ancient Eight.
Princeton (18-2, 9-2 Ivy) is responsible for two of those losses, after beating the Elis (14-7, 9-3), 3-0, this weekend and in New Haven two weeks ago, 3-1. The Bulldogs were able to bounce back after the loss to the Tigers by handling Penn in three straight games in Philadelphia.
Captain and libero Anja Perlebach ’07 had 16 digs in the match against the Quakers and tied Cathy Bell ’91 for first place on the all-time Yale career digs list with 1,349 total.
“This is a great milestone for her,” outside hitter Shannon Farrell ’07 said. “I’m really proud of her, and I’m really glad she could end the season with this record.”
Head coach Erin Appleman echoed those sentiments, saying Perlebach is one of the best defensive players she has ever coached.
Against Penn, middle Morgan Hume ’08 led the team in kills with 11 and a .625 hitting percentage. Outside hitter Alexis Crusey ’10 added eight kills, 12 digs and 5 aces in the victory.
The Elis made quick work of Penn on Saturday afternoon, winning 30-23, 30-27, 30-27 and getting back to the level of play the team expects.
“After the loss [to Princeton] it was difficult to play at a high emotional state,” Appleman said. “But I was happy with the way the team performed.”
The Bulldogs won the battle up the middle and at the net. Penn came in as a strong blocking team, but the Elis were able to tally nine team blocks to the Quakers’ three.
“We wanted to come out firing and show everyone what we can do,” middle hitter Laurel Johnson ’10 said. “We matched up really well against them, and we were able to execute.”
The Bulldogs did not drop a single game to the Quakers this season, winning 3-0 in both matchups.
The play and statistics were not as impressive in the Princeton game. Outside hitter Lydia Mailander ’10, who lately has been working her way into the lineup more often, continued to put up solid numbers, posting 11 kills and 5 digs. Fellow freshman Crusey notched 13 kills and 11 digs.
The Bulldogs fell 30-25, 30-16, 30-26 and severely hurt their chances of bringing home the Ivy League crown.
“We just didn’t execute our game plan,” Farrell said. “We contained their big hitters pretty well, but the other players on the team picked up the slack.”
Tiger outside hitter Lindsay Ensign, who the Bulldogs knew would be tough to handle, led her team with 15 kills and a .457 hitting percentage. Middle blocker Parker Henritze contributed 11 kills and 15 digs in her team’s triumph.
The Elis no longer control their own destiny and will now need several things to happen in order to win the Ivy League. They must first take care of business on their home floor this weekend by winning both of their final two league matches. They will also need Cornell and Princeton to drop one of their few remaining matches.
The Bulldogs will take the court for the final time this upcoming weekend with the hope that this scenario plays out. They face Dartmouth on Friday night and Harvard on Saturday afternoon in Lee Amphitheater. The team will honor both of its seniors, Perlebach and Farrell, before the start of the match against the Big Green.