Meteorologists claim that lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice, but don’t tell that to the volleyball team, which scorched a pair of opponents this past weekend inside the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
In their last home matches of the season, the Bulldogs (17-4, 11-1 Ivy) brought a whirlwind of an attack against their competition, and Columbia (5-16, 0-12) and Cornell (8-15, 7-5) both failed to weather the storm.
On Friday night, the Ivy League-leading Elis swept the last-place Lions for the second time this season.
Entering the match, Columbia had not won an Ivy match since 2006. And the Lions found no victory in the hurricane of an attack that the Bulldogs threw their way.
The Elis made it difficult for the Lions even to get started. The Bulldogs served tough balls to their opponents, tallying 11 aces. And when Yale didn’t get an ace, their serves were good enough to force the Lions to only one option, which was then anticipated and blocked. The Bulldogs posted six blocks at the net, compared to none by Columbia.
Offensively, the Bulldogs topped the Lions by using all their weapons at the net — outside hitter Julia Mailander ’10 led the way with 12 kills on 28 attempts. Behind her was middle blocker Taylor Cramm ’12, who contributed 8 kills. In addition, outside hitters Alexis Crusey ’10 and Cat Dailey ’10 posted seven kills each. The Bulldogs were efficient at the net, converting their 91 total attempts into 45 kills.
The Bulldogs were also effective on the defensive front. Crusey led the defense with 10 digs. Dailey had nine, and libero Kelly Ozurovich ’11 added seven more in the Elis’ defensive stand.
Yale’s combination of offensive and defensive strengths attests to their success this season.
“We’re working hard in practice and playing hard for each other,” head coach Erin Appleman said. “We’re continuing to improve every day and we brought a lot of energy, intensity and focus to the match [on Friday].”
The next day, the Bulldogs returned to the court with these very factors in their match against Cornell.
In their last home match of the season, the Bulldogs took a moment to celebrate senior night for captain Ally Mendenhall ’09, Courtney Hall ’09, Allison Kaptur ’09 and Kristen Wilk ’09.
Entering the match, the seniors were 23-4 against Ivy competitors at home in their time at Yale. And they stepped off the court 24-4, sweeping Cornell in three straight sets for the second time this season.
“I can’t think of a better way to end my time at Yale than to go out with a win,” Mendenhall said.
Although the Bulldogs had defeated Cornell earlier in the season, the Bulldogs didn’t underestimate their opponent.
“We knew that they would come out with nothing to lose,” Crusey said. “They were definitely going for the big swing.”
But the Bulldogs had the answer to any challenge the Big Red threw their way. Dailey and Crusey were a tag-team assault with an arsenal of only lightning bolts. Both had dominant games at the net, and combined for 35 kills.
The tally for the entire Big Red roster: 40 kills.
The Cornell match was more intense than the previous night’s, as both the Bulldogs and the Big Red were communicating on each point, creating longer rallies.
In the first two sets, the Bulldogs completely controlled the game and entered the intermission with a two game lead, topping the Big Red 25-15 and 25-18.
But after the break, Cornell came out determined to push the game into extra sets. They seized their first lead of the match by building a five-point advantage, up 14-9. As a result, Appleman was forced to take her first time-out of the match. She said the Bulldogs had lost a little focus and needed to come together to get the win.
Her Elis did just that. They won the first point after the huddle and fought back to lead the game 21-18, at which point Cornell took a timeout, hoping to end the Bulldogs’ momentum.
But the Elis held on to take the set 25-19, and improved their record to 11-1 in conference play.
The Bulldogs will finish Ivy League competition when they travel to take on Penn (12-11, 8-3) and Princeton (16-3, 10-1) this weekend.