The volleyball team will face its stiffest challenge of the Ivy season thus far when it travels to Dartmouth and Harvard for its final away matches until Nov. 2.
The Elis (7–5, 3–0 Ivy) are trying to build on a current four-match winning streak, which included 3–0 sweeps of Cornell and Columbia last weekend.
Captain and middle blocker Haley Wessels ’13 said that although the Bulldogs have played well of late, they are focusing on the future.
“We take it one week at a time,” Wessels said. “If we start thinking about how we’ve done in past weeks, we might get a little shaky.”
While Cornell and Columbia failed to put up much of a struggle last weekend, Dartmouth and Harvard should prove to be tougher opponents.
The Cantabs (4–10, 1–2 Ivy) do not have the wins to show for it, but they have already displayed some impressive performances this season. This past weekend alone, the Crimson took a five-set win from Penn and lost narrowly in five sets to Princeton after holding an initial 2–1 lead. Princeton is currently 3–0 and tied with Yale for first place in the league.
Senior outside hitter Taylor Docter drives the Crimson offense. Docter was a Second-Team All-Ivy pick last season and is near the top of several offensive categories this season. She is third in the conference in kills per set, fourth in service aces per set and second in points per set behind Princeton’s Lydia Rudnick.
But given the way the Yale defense has been playing this season, Docter should have some trouble offensively. The Bulldogs are second in the nation in digs per set with 19.39 and libero Maddie Rudnick ’15 is third in the conference with 4.56 digs per set.
Rudnick said she focuses on the defensive side of the ball so her teammates can concentrate on other aspects of the game.
“I just try to be in the right position to support the team,” she said. “I want them to have confidence that I will get the ball so they can focus on hitting and blocking.”
Friday’s match against the Big Green (2-11, 1-2 Ivy) may prove challenging as well. Dartmouth dealt last year’s team one of only two Ivy losses the Bulldogs suffered all season, a 3–2 defeat that came after Yale had already clinched the conference title. Like this weekend’s match, last year’s loss took place at Dartmouth.
“They have a very interesting offensive and defensive system,” Bulldog head coach Erin Appleman said. “Last year we struggled at Dartmouth.”
After last weekend’s showing against Cornell and Columbia, setter Kendall Polan ’14 and middle blocker Jesse Ebner ’16 were the team’s only conference award winners for the second consecutive week. Last week, Polan won Ivy League Player of the Week and Ebner was named to the league’s Honor Roll, while this week both were placed on the Honor Roll.
Already this season, Ebner and Wessels have become a formidable tandem at the middle blocker position. The two have hit .328 and .335 on the season respectively, the two highest marks on the team. They also have identical marks of 2.28 kills per set and have combined for 46 total blocks.
Wessels said that their success is a result of strong play by the rest of the team.
“The setters have been doing a really good job,” she said. “Whenever our passing is on it’s a lot easer to run the middle and makes our job a lot easier as hitters.”
The action for the Elis tips off at 7 p.m. at Dartmouth tonight and continues Saturday evening at 5 p.m. at Harvard.