California was not so sunny for the volleyball team.
The Bulldogs made the cross-country trip to the Golden State for three games at the Fullerton Classic and returned home with a three-match losing streak, falling to Liberty (8-4) Friday, and West Virginia (10-5) and host Cal State-Fullerton (10-3) Saturday.
“We battled really hard this weekend,” head coach Erin Appleman said. “We had our ups and downs.”
On Friday, the Elis dropped a tight first set and could not recover against Liberty. The Bulldogs were swept in three sets (25-27, 15-25, 21-25).
Trailing 21-16 in the first set, Yale fought back, with kills from middle blocker Haley Wessels ’13 and setter Kendall Polan ’14, to pull within one. The Bulldogs went on to tie the set at 25 before the Flames scored the next two points to win the set.
In the second set the Flames used a 7-0 run to build an 18-10 lead and take control of the set. Liberty went on to win the second set easily, 25-15.
The third set featured eight ties and four lead changes. With the Elis down 21-20 in the frame, Liberty scored four of the next five points, capped by a service ace from Hannah Anderson to seal the match.
Outside hitter Erica Reetz ’14, the reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Week, led Yale with 12 kills. Outside hitter Katie Cordell ’12 added 15 digs and four kills while Polan contributed 31 assists, seven digs, and four kills.
The next day, the Bulldogs returned to the court with a renewed vigor in their two matches against West Virginia and Cal St. Fullerton.
“We came out on Saturday and played with a lot of energy,” Appleman said. “We battled really hard on every point.”
Against the Mountaineers, the Elis lost a tight first set before recovering to win the second set, which would be Yale’s only set win of the weekend. The Blue ultimately succumbed to West Virginia in four sets (25-27, 25-17, 17-25, 20-25).
The first set included 14 ties and in the second set win the Elis had a .231 team hitting percentage.
The Bulldogs were led by opposite hitter Bridget Hearst ’12, who had 14 kills, and Reetz, who had 11 kills. Libero and captain Kelly Ozurovich ’11 contributed 24 digs while Cordell added 32 digs.
Later that same day, Yale faced Cal State-Fullerton in their final game of the tournament. The Elis were swept in three sets (25-27, 14-25, 22-25).
Ozurovich tallied 18 digs, while Reetz contributed 11 kills and 10 digs. Hearst added 14 kills.
Despite losing three games, the Bulldogs believe they improved a lot and have grown from the experience of playing superior teams.
“It was a fantastic experience,” Appleman said. “We learned a lot.”
The trip was a homecoming of sorts for six Eli California natives. Ozurovich (Playa del Rey, Calif.), middle blocker Taylor Cramm ’12 (Laguna Niguel, Calif.), Cordell (Yorba Linda, Calif.), Hearst (Pacific Palisades, Calif.), middle blocker Julia Cortopassi ’13 (Davis, Calif.), and Polan (Cardiff, Calif.) each returned to their home state.
This weekend the Bulldogs have a home-and-home series with Albany. The Bulldogs host the Great Danes on Friday before traveling to Albany in their last weekend before Ivy League play begins. Friday’s match will begin at 7 p.m.