When the volleyball team traveled to Princeton, N.J. for its first Ivy League road match, the Tigers dealt the Bulldogs their first conference loss this season.
The 3–1 loss dropped Yale (12–5, 6–1 Ivy) into a tie with Princeton (13–6, 6–1) for first place in the Ivy League on Friday. But on Saturday, the Bulldogs rebounded to go 1–1 for the weekend with a 3–0 win against Penn.
“I felt Princeton played really well, and I don’t think we were quite ready for the challenge,” head coach Erin Appleman said.
Princeton’s outside hitter Lydia Rudnick, sister of Yale libero Maddie Rudnick ’15, recorded 25 kills, 14 digs and a 0.434 hitting percentage.
Appleman said she thinks Lydia Rudnick is the best outside hitter in the conference.
“She had a career night and we really couldn’t stop her,” the coach said. “I think she was really excited to play against her sister and she showed it.”
Lydia Rudnick said her competitive relationship with younger sister Maddie motivated her to bring her best game Friday.
She added that because of the sisters’ two-year age difference, they had never played each other before.
“We are both very competitive, so I think it definitely affected my performance because I was that much more motivated to play well,” Princeton’s Rudnick said.
Although nobody on the court amounted as many kills as Lydia Rudnick, Yale’s own Maddie Rudnick played a solid match with 15 digs and no errors to lead the Elis’ defense.
Friday’s match was the first time the two sisters had played against each other and was a matchup that Rudnick ’15 said she relished despite Yale’s loss.
“It was kind of interesting because I feel like I know [my sister’s] hitting tendencies,” Maddie Rudnick said. “It was a fun experience and I’m looking forward to playing her again.”
The Bulldogs will face the Tigers again Nov. 5 in Payne Whitney Gymnasium.
The Bulldogs have made a habit of shutting down the opposition’s top players — such as Dartmouth’s Madeline Baird and Brown’s Maddie Lord — this season. But the team could not contain Princeton’s top outside hitters, Rudnick and Cathryn Quinn, who combined for 46 kills over the course of the four sets.
The teams split the first two sets with Yale taking the second 25–23. In a pivotal third set, however, the Bulldogs would come out on the wrong side of a 25–20 score. With the score tied at 15, the Tigers scored three straight points to capture a lead that they would not relinquish for the rest of the set.
Captain Taylor Cramm ’12 said while playing against Princeton, the team realized how difficult it finds competing at another gym with a crowd supporting the other team.
“I think that we had a little bit of a slow start and they came out ready to play,” captain Taylor Cramm ’12 said. “They had a big crowd and we didn’t come out and play to our full potential.”
But during the next match, Cramm said the team was able to focus primarily on what it could control on Yale’s side of the court.
The Bulldogs rebounded Saturday against Penn, a team that tied Yale for the Ivy League championship last season. The Quakers (6–11, 2–5) have not competed as well this season and came into Saturday’s match off losses against Columbia and Brown the weekend before.
The Elis got back on track right away against Penn, gaining an 18–17 lead and putting away the first set 25–21. After a closely contested first set, the Bulldogs broke a 1–1 tie in the second set and maintained the lead for the rest of the match.
Leading 5–4 in the second set, Yale went on a 10–3 run to go up 15–7. The run featured two consecutive kills from outside hitter Mollie Rogers ’15 assisted by setter Kendall Polan ’14.
In the third set, the Elis jumped out to a 9–4 lead that they would not give back, and Yale cliched a 25–19 set win.
The Bulldogs will be back in action next weekend with a Saturday night match against Brown in Providence, R.I.