It was a tough weekend on the courts for the volleyball team as it had its first taste of defeat for the 2009-’10 season.
The Bulldogs arrived at the American Volleyball Classic undefeated, but the team was unable to return home unscathed. The Elis (4-1) fell in three straight sets to Virginia Tech (8-0) but beat American University (1-6) to bring its record to 4-1 on the season.
On Friday night, the Elis beat American, 3-1. The first set began with a eight-point split, but the Eagles hit a run and stole a 7-4 lead. After tying the score three times, the Bulldogs finally overtook the lead at 19-18 with a block by middle blocker Haley Wessels ’13 and setter Kerry Clavadetscher ’13.
After two more ties, the Eagles stormed ahead to a 23-21 lead to force a Yale timeout, but the break in play did not break the streak, and the Eagles carried the set, 25-21.
“That game was the first we had lost all year,” libero Kelly Ozurovich ’11 said. “It was great to see how we could come back from a loss and take the match.”
After the set break, the Bulldogs continued play unfazed. Despite trailing early in the second set, the Elis ran away to a 21-19 lead. Unable to regain their footing, the American team quickly lost four succinct points and with them, the set.
Back on top, the Elis took the next two sets 25-16 and 25-15. The team hit .250 (12-6-28) and .333 (10-2-24) in the third and fourth, respectively. While American failed to hit above 0.000 in either set.
“We didn’t play our best at first,” Wessels said. “But the last match of the game we did – it progressively got better.”
Saturday morning, the undefeated team faced the Hokies who were fresh off of a win against New Jersey Tech the night before.
The teams hit comparably – the Elis at .228 (25-14-92) and the Hokies at .260 (39-14-96) – but Virginia Tech stormed ahead with 10 service aces against the Bulldog’s two.
“Against Virginia Tech we weren’t playing our best at all,” Wessels said. “We were playing a really good team – the way they played and how fast they were is something we hadn’t seen yet.”
In the first set, the Hokies ran away with 12 of the first 18 points of the day. Although Yale was able to rally later on, the team could never quite pull ahead of the Hokies and fell, 25-21, after closing the score to within two points.
In the second set, the Hokies opened with two aces. Yale quickly tied the score at 2-2 and then 4-4, but a run by Virginia Tech put the score at 12-6 and forced a timeout. Unfazed, the Hokies went on to take the set, 25-15.
The third set began with a 13-13 draw, but the Elis pulled ahead 15-13 to force the Hokies’ first timeout. With a 19-19 tie, the Hokies ran the score to 20-19, but the Elis tied it again at 24-24. Two lethal points ended the match: 26-24, Virginia Tech.
“They ran a really fast offense,” Ozurovich. “They’re unlike anyone we’ve played this year or in years past. It was an important lesson for us to lose a match early in preseason and learn to come back from a defeat.”
The Elis’ outside hitter Cat Dailey ’10 got a match-high 12 kills during the afternoon and outside hitter Alexis Crusey ’10 earned All-Tournament honors for her performance, which included six kills and a match-best 11 digs against Virginia Tech.
Opposite hitter Bridget Hearst ’12 and Ozurovich contributed to the Eli effort with eight kills on 16 swings and nine digs, respectively. Clavadetscher led the Elis in assists (12) and setter Kate Parker ’11 was in second with 11 assists.
“I think Kelly Ozurovich played really well,” Wessels said of her teammate. “She came up against some really big hitters and didn’t let anything hit the floor.”
Next weekend, the Bulldogs travel to the Seton Hall Invitational to face Hofstra on Friday at 5 p.m., the New Jersey Institute of Technology on Saturday at 1 p.m., and Seton Hall later that day at 7 p.m.