The volleyball team will travel to Pennsylvania this weekend to battle Kansas, Penn State and Villanova in the Villanova Classic tournament.
The Bulldogs (1–2, 0–0 Ivy) will face the Jayhawks (6–1, 0–0 Big 12) on Friday, then the Nittany Lions (4–1, 0–0 Big Ten) and Wildcats (4–3, 0–0 Big East) on Saturday. The Elis are prepared for fierce opposition, with Kansas currently ranked 24th in Division-I and Penn State, last year’s national champion, holding the third seat.
“We are going to play some tough teams, and it’ll be a test for us,” said middle blocker Jesse Ebner ’16. “But I think we’ve improved a lot in practice this week, and we are all ready to start the weekend against Kansas.”
Ebner had a strong start to the season, contributing 13 kills to the Yale victory against Albany this past weekend.
Captain Mollie Rogers ’15 echoed Ebner’s evaluation of the coming weekend’s competition and added that facing off against two top-25 teams would be “great experience” that will push the Bulldogs to up their level of play.
Rogers was the team leader in kills this past weekend against Minnesota and Boston College with nine and 10 in the two games, respectively. She also had a team-best 17 digs against Albany.
“The goal is to just keep getting better with every point,” Ebner said. “And I’m excited to see how we implement the things we’ve practiced this week.”
After the Yale Invitational last weekend, assistant coach Kevin Laseau said that the team would work with coaches to build on the strengths displayed and address the mistakes made on the court during the tournament.
This weekend kicks off a string of 11 away games for the volleyball team, which will not return to the John J. Lee Amphitheater until it plays Cornell on Oct. 17.
“It’s obviously difficult to play on the road, and it’s especially difficult to play on the road five weeks in a row,” Rogers said. “We try to stay focused and take one match at a time.”
Outside hitter Brittani Steinberg ’17 said the team members were all eager for the chance to get back on the court and test their strengths at Villanova. She agreed with Ebner that the team and the coaches had already seen improvements in the Bulldogs’ quality of play after this week’s work.
“We’ve been working super hard,” she said. “And we’re all really excited to compete again.”
While training during the week, the Bulldogs focused on doing team drills so that both new and returning players could keep working toward their goal of playing as a cohesive unit, Steinberg said.
The women’s next tournament will be the Fullerton Classic, hosted by Cal State. They will travel to the west coast to play the Cal State Titans, the UCLA Bruins and the Georgetown Hoyas the weekend of Oct. 19.