The volleyball team just keeps rolling.
The Bulldogs won their fifth and sixth straight matches this weekend with 3–1 and 3–0 victories against Dartmouth and Harvard to maintain their hold on first place in the Ivy League.
During the six-match streak, which dates back to a 3–0 sweep of Albany on Sept. 19, Yale (9–5, 5–0 Ivy) has dropped just two sets out of 20 played in total.
Head coach Erin Appleman said the key to the team’s success has been its evenly balanced offensive attack.
“We don’t have one person who we set all the time,” she said. “We have a whole bunch of hitters that are all doing a pretty good job so we’re not one-dimensional.”
In their Friday night tilt against Dartmouth (2–13, 1–4 Ivy) the Elis dropped one set, a closely contested 25–22 loss in the third set, but cruised to a victory anyway.
Last year, the Big Green defeated the Bulldogs 3–2 in Yale’s final Ivy match of the season in Hanover, but Yale was not caught off-guard this time around. With the exception of that third-set loss, the Elis dominated. In the first, second and fourth sets, Yale outscored the Big Green 75–44 to pick up the 3–1 victory.
It became clear early in the match that the Bulldogs meant business. Yale jumped out to a 15–5 lead in the first set behind three kills from captain and middle blocker Haley Wessels ’13. The Elis then went on to take that set 25–13 and the second one 25–14 for a fast start.
“Having a quick start even in a game as opposed to a match gives you such an advantage,” outside hitter Mollie Rogers ’15 said. “You don’t have to be fighting back every point, and you can take some more risks and be a little more comfortable.”
Yale got off to another fast start on Saturday evening against Harvard (5–11, 2–3 Ivy) when it raced out to an early 10–4 lead in the first set. Leading that charge was middle blocker Maya Midzik ’16, who logged two kills and consecutive service aces to score four of Yale’s first five points of the match.
“Maya is very athletic and that obviously is such a big help in a game like volleyball,” Rogers said. “She jumps really high and is really powerful. Because she jumps so high she can hit balls around and over the block that others can’t.”
But the Bulldogs were not able to hold on to the lead as Harvard went on their own 10–4 run to tie the score at 14. A trio of underclassmen then responded for the Bulldogs as Kelly Johnson ’16, Rogers and Jesse Ebner ’16 blasted three straight kills to put Yale in front for good en route to a 25–19 first-set victory.
The kill from Johnson, which gave the Elis a 15–14 edge, was part of one of the best performances from any Yale player this season. Johnson hit with ruthless efficiency and logged 13 kills on just 18 attempts, good for a .722 hitting percentage. She also added 20 assists and nine digs to fall just short of her third triple-double of the season.
Despite Johnson’s strong play, however, Yale managed to fall behind early in the second set to the Cantabs. Harvard took leads of 6–0 and 12–4 before Appleman used her second timeout of the set. Ebner said that during the timeout, Appleman tried to refocus the team.
“We really just needed to focus on our side,” Ebner said. “We had a lot of unforced errors in the beginning so basically she just told us to kind of focus on our play.”
Following the timeout, the Bulldogs went on a 13–2 run to pull ahead 17–14 and led the rest of the way for a 2–0 lead. Following a blowout 25–15 third-set victory, the Elis headed back to New Haven with another successful weekend of Ivy play behind them.
Yale will be back in action and facing its toughest Ivy test of the season this weekend, when Princeton and Penn will come to the John J. Lee Ampitheater to take on the Bulldogs.
The action starts against the Tigers on Friday night at 7 p.m.