The volleyball team notched 3–1 victories over Columbia and Cornell on consecutive nights this weekend to maintain its two-match lead over second-place Princeton.
The Bulldogs (14–5, 10–0 Ivy) dropped two sets in one weekend for the first time in their Ivy schedule but still managed to extend their current winning streak to 11 matches, the longest for the team since at least 2007.
“I wouldn’t even know if [the streak] was a record or not,” head coach Erin Appleman said. “I just know we haven’t lost in the Ivy League. This is a remarkably great group of players that get along. I think that they’re accomplishing some fabulous things because our team chemistry is so good.”
The action got off to a good start for the Bulldogs with a 25–15 win over Columbia in their first set of the weekend. But the Lions stormed back in the second set and took a 25–21 victory to even the match at one set apiece. The two sides battled to a 10–9 Columbia lead but the Lions pulled away for good with an 8–3 run.
Megan Gaughn led the way for Columbia with seven of her match-high 22 kills in that set. Gaughn’s 22 kills represented the highest kill total logged against the Bulldogs this season.
“She’s a really great hitter,” middle blocker Jesse Ebner ’16 said. “She just mixes it up a lot. She used a lot of different shots. In the first couple of games we were on our heels and she talked about how the one thing she hasn’t done in her career was beating Yale.”
The third set was the most crucial of the night for the Elis. With the match tied at one, Columbia gave the Bulldogs all they could handle. The Lions built a quick 11–5 lead behind five Yale errors, but then setter Kelly Johnson ’16 took over the match. She logged five of her 13 kills overall to help Yale tie the set at 14.
But the Bulldogs could not gain the lead despite Johnson’s scoring spree. Columbia pulled away following the tie and held a 22–18 lead following a Gaughn kill. But the Bulldogs pulled it together and, taking advantage of two Columbia errors, tied the score at 22. The two sides battled back and forth past the standard 25-point mark until libero Maddie Rudnick ’15 gave Yale the 2–1 win with her ninth service ace of the season.
“I went back there thinking I was going to ace the ball,” Rudnick said. “I wanted the set to be over. I was looking for an ace and not looking to just keep the ball in.”
Following a stress-free 25–19 win over Columbia in the fourth set, the Bulldogs turned their attention to Cornell on Saturday night. The Big Red put up a struggle in the first two sets of that match, playing to a 1–1 tie and matching the Elis in total points at 51 apiece. But the Big Red ran out of gas and sputtered to just 24 points overall in the final two sets of the match.
Although the Bulldogs have consistently outplayed their opponents at the end of sets this season, Cornell got the better of Yale at the end of a hotly contested opening game. The two sides were tied at 22, 24 and 26 but Cornell won the battle of wills to take a 28–26 victory.
“We weren’t playing like ourselves and we just had to turn it around and make sure we were taking care of the ball,” Appleman said. “To me it’s about passing and serving and we weren’t doing that well.”
But in the following set, Yale would not be outplayed down the stretch again. With the two sides tied at 21, the Bulldogs scored two straight and capped off a 25–23 victory with a Mollie Rogers ’15 kill.