The Yale volleyball team (14–2, 4–1 Ivy) bounced back from a tough loss to Penn two Saturdays ago with a pair of Ivy League road victories over Cornell (6–11, –-3) and Columbia (11–8, 2–4) this past weekend. On Friday, the Bulldogs prevailed in three sets with scores of 26–24, 25–23 and 25–14 against the Big Red. The Elis got a bigger test Saturday but proved resilient, winning a close, four-set match against the Lions with set scores of 20–25, 25–18, 25–21, and 2–-18.
The Bulldogs embarked on their road trip with a win-or-go-home mentality.
“We knew that we definitely had to win this weekend,” libero Kelly Ozurovich ’11 said.
But after the long bus ride to Cornell, the team experienced some nerves in its first Ivy League road game.
“We had a couple jitters,” admitted Ozurovich.
Nevertheless, the Bulldogs prevailed, winning for the seventh straight time following a loss. The team got important contributions from outside hitter Cat Dailey ’10, who had 12 kills and nine digs, and middle blocker Haley Wessels ’13, who had 10 kills. Ozurovich continued her defensive dominance with 25 digs.
But despite the three-set win, not all the Bulldogs were impressed with their own performance.
“We definitely could have played better,” said Wessels. “We definitely need to work on team chemistry on the court.”
The Elis followed up the win against Cornell with another one against Columbia, coming back from losing the first set to win the next three.
“We weren’t ready to play,” Ozurovich said about the Bulldogs’ start against Columbia.
Added Wessels: “We underestimated them a little bit at the beginning.”
Nevertheless, the Bulldogs got the victory, thanks in large part to a career-day for opposite hitter Bridget Hearst ’12, who had a career-high 27 kills in the match — the most kills any current Bulldog has ever tallied in a single match.
“Bridget and I played together in high school, so I’ve watched her play for a long time, and that was the best I’ve ever seen her play,” Ozurovich said. “She played awesome. Twenty-seven kills is a ridiculous number.”
Outside hitter Alexis Crusey ’10 also contributed 13 kills, moving her into fifth place on the Yale volleyball all-time kills list with 1,174 kills in her career.
Setter Kerry Clavadetscher ’13 dished out a career-high 56 assists, while Dailey, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, earned 18 kills and 15 digs in her seventh double-double of the season. Ozurovich had 21 digs.
With the victory, the Bulldogs have won 10 consecutive Ivy League road matches.
One area that has contributed to the Elis’ success this season has been blocking. The Bulldogs lead the Ivy League in blocks, with 2.33 per match.
“The most important thing is focusing on getting your hands over the net,” said middle blocker Laurel Johnson ’10.
Throughout the season, blocks from the Bulldogs have come at decisive points of the matches, contributing to the Bulldogs’ 14–2 record.
Next weekend, the Bulldogs return home to host Dartmouth on Friday and archrival Harvard on Saturday.
Still, despite its success, the volleyball team remains grounded and committed to winning and defending its Ivy League crown.
As Ozurovich put it: “We’re just really hungry.”