After two key victories against Harvard and Dartmouth last week, the Elis play two games against tough teams this weekend and must win both to keep their conference title hopes alive. The second-place Bulldogs (12–7, 6–2 Ivy) will face current conference leaders Princeton (11–7, 6–1) and Penn (10–9, 6–1) tonight and Saturday night at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. The Bulldogs lost to both teams earlier in the season.
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If the Bulldogs drop both games this weekend, and win the remaining four of their league games, they would finish with a 10–4 conference record. But the last time a team with a 10–4 record won the conference was in a four-way tie in 2004.
“We are continuing to get better and trying to win matches,” head coach Erin Appleman said. “We need to be focused and ready for every match.”
Princeton had been undefeated (5–0) in the conference before they fell in five sets to Columbia (12–6, 4–4) last weekend. The Elis defeated Columbia in four sets earlier in the season.
The Tigers are lead by the three-time Ivy League Player of the Week Lydia Rudnick who is averaging 4.4 kills and 4.8 points per set. Hillard Ford leads the team with 3.94 digs per set and ranks eighth in the Ivy League.
“They have a very strong attack with a strong defense,” Appleman said. “They have people who can potentially get hot.”
The Quakers also have strong players on both offense and defense. Madison Wojciechowski leads the Conference with 5.78 digs per set and her teammate Megan Tryon leads the league with 10.54 assists per set.
“Penn has a balanced attack and they have a few players that can dominate matches,” Appleman said. “They are the reigning champions and they have experience behind them.”
Penn is on a six matchwinning streak after losing its Ivy League conference opener against Princeton in five close sets. Penn beat the Bulldogs in four sets earlier in the season.
Yale will rely heavily on the three-headed attack it has used throughout the course of the season with Erica Reetz ’14, Haley Wessels ’13, and Bridget Hearst ’12. All three players have averaged more than 2.5 kills a set. McHaney Carter ’14 will lead the defense with .96 blocks a set and Kelly Ozurovich ’11 leads the team with 5.48 digs per set.
“We need to concentrate on ourselves and focus on doing our best,” Appleman said.
The match against Princeton begins on Friday at 7 p.m. Yale will then face Penn on Saturday at 6 p.m.