The defending champion Bulldogs will begin their quest for a fifth straight Ivy League crown when they open conference play against the Brown Bears this Friday.
The Elis (4–5, 0–0 Ivy) will travel to Providence to battle Brown (4–7, 0–0 Ivy). The match will kick off a series of five away games for the Elis against Ivy foes.
“It feels great to start Ivy play,” captain Mollie Rogers ’15 said. “The teams are more familiar and playing for the Ivy title is so much fun.”
Rogers has played in three Ivy title matches throughout her Yale career and has seen the Bulldogs take the championship all three times.
She said that the team has been working as a unit to improve the control over their side of the net in preparation for the Brown match.
Rogers said that although last weekend’s triumphs against Cal State Fullerton and Georgetown were highlights of the season thus far, the Bulldogs will look at Ivy play as separate from the preseason games.
Brown’s star middle blocker Payton Smith has already had an impactful start to the season, with the second highest hitting percentage and the highest number of service aces in the Ivy League.
“I think Smith has been doing a great job,” head coach Erin Appleman said. “And [Brown senior outside hitter] Maddie Lord is also a big part of their offense.”
Appleman added that, despite a strong offense, the Bears’ threat was their defensive play.
Rogers has also established herself as a player to watch as the league season opens, earning spots in the top ten in kills, aces and digs. Setters Kelly Johnson ’16 and Kelsey Crawford ’18, in addition to libero Maddie Rudnick ’15, join Rogers among Ivy leaders.
Friday’s match will be a test for the Bulldogs to see whether or not they are prepared for conference play, Appleman said.
“We’re still a little injured, and we’ve just been working to prepare and be the best team that we can be,” Appleman said. “Everyone goes into the Ivy season with the same 0–0 record, so it’s definitely a fresh start.”
She added that Yale had played against challenging preseason opponents, including four top-25 teams, and so is prepared for the challenge.
Middle blocker Jesse Ebner ’16 agreed with Appleman that the Elis were ready to battle.
“We’ve been competing a ton during practice,” she said. “It’s been a lot of high level fun.”
In two weeks, the women will travel to Cambridge to face archrival Harvard. The Bulldogs’ Ivy home opener will be against Cornell on Oct. 17.