After two weeks of nonconference play, the volleyball team has made it clear that it does not go down without a fight. In their second consecutive weekend of tournament play in the John J. Lee Ampitheater, the Bulldogs (3–2) rallied from behind to top Villanova on Friday and issued the weekend’s toughest challenge to Northwestern (8–0) on Saturday.
“I think [this weekend] showed we are a really resilient team, and we play really well together,” middle blocker Jesse Ebner ’16 said. “We came out against Villanova and didn’t play our best match, but we still fought, and we didn’t give up when we were down.”
The peak of the weekend’s excitement occurred during the Friday night opener against Villanova (5–4). The action-packed match reached its crescendo during a fourth set in which Yale completed a thrilling comeback. In that game, Villanova built early leads of 6–0 and 12–3 and Yale did not take Elis in the following set with the come-from-behind victory.for the Elis. Five Yale players recorded double-digit kills, led by Ebner who notched 15 to the tune of a .480 hitting percentage. Outside hitter Erica Reetz ’14 said that such depth makes the Elis offense very dangerous.
“It helps incredibly to have so many offensive contributors,” Reetz said. “When you have one person on fire, it’s great to be able to feed them the ball. But when you have two, it makes it impossible for the other side to play defense.”
The weekend’s greatest challenge came on Saturday night against Northwestern, a member of the powerhouse Big Ten conference. The Wildcats established themselves early and built an 18–10 lead, but, once again, the Bulldogs crawled back and nearly stole the set. Down 24–14, Yale scored nine straight to pull within one point but fell just short of completing the comeback to give the Wildcats an opening set victory.
But just like they did against Villanova, the Elis bounced back and took the second set by a convincing 25-18 score to tie the match at one. Reetz said that the team’s ability to rebound following a first set loss is crucial.
“It is incredibly important to be able to pick up the morale and intensity and come back out in the second set,” she said. “A lot of teams struggle with that, and it shows a lot about our team character that we can come back from a first game loss.”
Northwestern went on to take the third and fourth sets but only outscored the Elis 51–46 during those two sets. In the box score Yale dominated Northwestern, making the 3–1 final score somewhat deceptive. The Elis hit .240 to Northwestern’s .176 and blocked nine more shots than the Wildcats.
“I think we made big strides in blocking,” Appleman said. “Out-blocking a Big Ten team is pretty spectacular, and I was really proud of the effort that they gave.”
After opening the season with five home matches, the Elis are heading to San Diego to take on University of California-Santa Barbara, San Diego and Fresno State this weekend.