The Yale volleyball team opens its season this weekend when it hosts the Yale Invitational with action against Boston College on Friday before double duty the following day against Colgate and Utah. The team will be looking to jump-start another championship winning season.
“This weekend is really a chance for us to get better, more than anything,” assistant coach Kevin Laseau said. “We need to try and apply what we’ve been working on in practice and transfer that to live match situations.”
Since the end of the last season, the Elis have added five freshmen to the squad in addition to All-American coach Amy DeGroot. DeGroot was a former player with the University of San Diego volleyball team, a top-25 program.
The freshmen on the team look to be a threat on the court. The incoming class is ranked in the top 50 in the country. Maddie Rudnick ’15 will be playing alongside her former high school teammate Kendall Polan ’14, last year’s standout Ivy League Rookie of the Year.
“Our freshman are incredibly talented players and the dynamic they bring to the team chemistry is equally as amazing to their playing abilities,” opposite hitter Bridget Hearst ’12 said.
Play this weekend will be uncharted territory for the young Eli squad. The team has not played either BC or Colgate since the 2008 season. In addition, those two schools will come into the Yale Invitational with more experience.
“Everyone we’ll be playing this weekend has about 10 more days of practice than we have, and have already played two to three matches,” Laseau added.
Yale’s first foe, Boston College, is on a two match-losing streak at the hands of AVCA No. 9 Florida State and Auburn. When the Bulldogs and Eagles last met, the Elis were able to brush aside the challenge in straight sets in the 2008-’09 season.
The Eagle team is led by Brennan Clark. The senior is ranked fourth in school history with 1,289 career digs and plays a pivotal role in the team’s defense. Alongside Clark, team captain Krystle Higgins has been BC’s anchor on defense with five blocks through the Eagle’s opening series of matches.
After its contest against BC on Friday, the team will have a doubleheader on Saturday against Colgate in the morning and Utah in the evening.
“We are less familiar with their tendencies and only get one opportunity to play them, unlike Ivies,” Hearst said.
Colgate got off to a slow start this season, just as BC did, with a 1–2 showing at the Colgate Classic last weekend. Like Polan, the Raiders’ Kaylee Fifer plays the role of team distributor and notched 77 assists. In 2008, the Bulldogs swept the Raiders aside in straight games.
The biggest challenge will likely be the final game of the weekend. Unlike BC and Colgate, the finale against Utah will be against a team that has a winning record, 2–1. The Utes are led by sophomores Morgan Odale and Erin Redd, and freshman Chelsey Schofield. The trio started the season strongly and combined for 77 kills in opening play.
“We want to execute, get comfortable with each other, get better,” Laseau concluded.
In addition to Rudnick, the Bulldog’s new freshmen include Gabby Bird-Vogel ’15, Allie Frappier ’15, Mollie Rogers ’15 and Dani Salka ’15.