Just one weekend stands between the Bulldogs and perfection.
After clinching the conference title last weekend, Yale (16–5, 12–0 Ivy) will attempt to become just the second team ever to go 14–0 in Ivy League play this weekend when Harvard (9–15, 6–6 Ivy) and Dartmouth (2–20, 1–11 Ivy) come to New Haven. The first team to accomplish the feat was the 2007 Princeton Tigers, who beat out second- place Yale for the conference title that season.
“It would be cool to have that to say in addition to what we have already accomplished,” captain and middle blocker Haley Wessels ’13 said. “But I don’t want to make it something that we’re pressured to do. Still, I think it’s nice to be able to finish the season with goals.”
The Bulldogs would become the 15th team to finish the Ivy League regular season unde- feated since volleyball was added to the conference in 1977. But in each season prior to 1994 at least one member school fielded a club, rather than a varsity team, and the League only expanded to its current 14-match schedule in 2001.
Adding to the festivities this weekend will be Yale’s senior night. The Bulldogs will honor Wessels, the team’s only senior
and current captain, prior to Saturday’s match against Dart- mouth. Wessels has won three Ivy League championships with the Elis and was a second-team All-Ivy selection in 2010.
“She’s such an amazing person to play with, both on and off the court,” outside hitter Mollie Rog- ers ’15 said. “She’s done a great job as a captain, not only with the logistical stuff but also as a leader and someone the team can respect. She’s done so much for the program and I’m really hon- ored that I’ve been able to play with her.”
The Bulldogs will open this weekend’s action on Friday night against Harvard, a team they have not lost to since at least 2006. Going back to 2007, Yale has beaten the Cantabs 11 straight times and has won 33 out of the 38 sets the two sides have played during that span.
Yale swept Harvard on the road earlier this season behind a mas- terful performance from setter Kelly Johnson ’16. In that match, Johnson had 13 kills and a .722 hitting percentage to go along with 20 assists.
But the most impressive per- formance of the day came from the Yale defense, which shut down Harvard’s star outside hit- ter Taylor Docter. Docter, who is currently third in the conference with 3.18 kills per set, recorded just three kills in the entire match on 28 attempts.
For its own offense, Yale will
likely look to Rogers, who is com- ing off a monster weekend and the first Ivy League Player of the Week award of her career. Rogers ranks just behind Docter at fourth in the Ivies at 3.01 kills per set and is second among the Bulldogs in digs. Last weekend, she hit 16 kills against Penn on Friday and 15 against Princeton on Saturday to lead the Bulldogs to a pair of vic- tories.
“Before the weekend, coach told me to just go for it offen- sively,” Rogers said. “I had the mindset that if I make an error or two, that’s okay. I just kept swinging away and I think that’s why it clicked.”
After Harvard, the Bulldogs will take on Dartmouth on Sat- urday. In last year’s regular sea- son finale, the Big Green shocked Yale with a 3–2 win the night after the Bulldogs clinched the Ivy title against Harvard. That contest was Dartmouth’s final home match of the year and then- senior Madeline Baird exploded for 17 kills against the Elis.
But the Big Green has strug- gled without Baird this season. Dartmouth is in the midst of a 12-match losing streak, a slide dating back to Sep. 21.
The action tips off Friday night at 7 p.m. against Harvard and concludes Saturday at 5 p.m. against Dartmouth.