The volleyball team suddenly has some breathing room at the top of the Ivy standings.
Following a 3–0 victory over Brown and Princeton’s 3–2 loss to Penn this weekend, the Bulldogs increased their lead over the second-place Tigers to two matches. Just 10 days ago, the two squads were tied atop the Ancient Eight standings with identical 5–0 Ivy records.
“Throughout the whole season we’ve had the ability to determine our own destiny,” outside hitter Erica Reetz ’14 said. “Having a cushion now doesn’t really change what we do going forward.”
This weekend’s win extended the Elis’ winning streak to nine matches, a run that began over a month ago with a sweep of Albany on Sept. 19. In that time, Yale (12–5, 8–0 Ivy) has dropped just three of the 30 sets it has played and built the program’s longest winning streak since the 2010 squad won 10 straight conference matches.
Despite the 3–0 final score, Saturday’s contest against Brown (5–13, 1–7 Ivy) was not an easy win for the Bulldogs. The Bears pushed the Elis to the limit in each set and were only outscored by 11 points overall.
“Brown is a really scrappy team,” head coach Erin Appleman said. “They have a tough serve and they dig a lot of balls.”
The opening set came down to the wire but the Bulldogs managed to pull out a 25–21 victory. The Bears scored the opening point for their only lead of the set, but hung around to make it interesting down the stretch. With Brown down 19–16, outside hitter Maddie Lord hit three kills in a row to pull the Bears even. But the Elis responded with a three-point run of their own that included a Reetz kill to take a 22–19 lead that they did not relinquish.
“Sometimes we refocus during the set when we feel like things are off,” Reetz said. “We come back together and get focused in on what we need to do to win that set and move forward.”
The Bulldogs kept that momentum rolling in the second set and jumped out to a 14–7 lead. But Brown managed another comeback to make the final moments of the game difficult for Yale. The Bears stormed back from a 22–14 deficit with a 7–1 run and, after two straight kills from opposite Amanda Nickel, were down just 23–21. But outside hitter Mollie Rogers ’15 responded for Yale with a kill and setter Kendall Polan ’14 added one of her own to seal a second straight 25–21 win.
The Yale offense played well enough to win but had its worst statistical showing of the Ivy season so far. The Bulldogs hit just .178, below their previous Ivy low of .211, which they posted against Penn last weekend. They also finished with their lowest kill and assist totals of the Ivy season thus far.
“We were not very efficient this weekend,” Appleman said. “I don’t think we played as well as we had earlier in the season. It was not a good showing for my team.”
Setter Kelly Johnson ’16 once again set the pace for Yale offensively and led all players with 12 kills to the tune of a .320 hitting percentage. Reetz was the only other Yale player to record more than five kills and had seven on 15 attempts while Polan contributed 23 assists.
The Bulldogs are back in action on Friday night when they take on Columbia at 7 p.m. They will follow that contest up with a 5 p.m. Saturday showdown against Cornell.