The Yale volleyball team no longer stands alone atop the Ivy League after the conclusion of two games this weekend.
After beating Dartmouth on Friday in a clean sweep, the Elis fell to Harvard despite a valiant effort on Saturday night. The defeat marked Yale’s first home conference loss since Nov. 21, 2010, against Penn.
The Bulldogs (12–7, 8–2 Ivy), who are now tied for first with the Crimson (15–4, 8–2), hosted both games at the John J. Lee Amphitheater this weekend. On Friday night, the squad faced the Big Green (13–8, 4–6) and managed to finish all three sets with no less than a six-point margin of victory. Yale hit 0.352 on the night compared to just 0.178 for Dartmouth. Setter Kelly Johnson ’16, who had three blocks on the night, noted that the team established control from the very beginning.
“We played a really solid game. I thought we were able to keep a really consistent level of play throughout the entire match, and there weren’t a lot of ups and downs,” Johnson said. “We knew what we had to do, and I thought we took care of it really well.”
The Bulldogs put away the first two sets fairly easily — with two straight 25–17 victories — and managed to regain the lead and take the third set 25–19 after falling slightly behind.
The match also highlighted the talents of captain Mollie Rogers ’15, who had 19 kills and hit 0.571. Rogers, who is currently one of only six Yale players in history with 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs to her name, attributed the team’s success to the attitude the Elis maintained throughout.
“I think in the Dartmouth match we just played a lot looser, a lot more comfortable,” Rogers said.
Saturday night, unfortunately for the Yale squad, was a different story. The Elis hit just 0.104 on the night compared to Harvard’s 0.238. While the Bulldogs hung tight throughout most of the match, they eventually lost in all three sets, 26-24, 25-22 and 25-15.
With their win, the Cantabs now move into first place alongside Yale with just four matches left in conference play. Head coach Erin Appleman blamed the loss on a lack of aggression in the match on Saturday.
“I think we’re still having to work on some of the basics. Blocking … and playing aggressive are some of the things we’re going to have to work on this week in the gym,” Appleman said.
In a bright spot for the team during its second loss to its rival this season, both Johnson and Rogers had 11 kills on the night.
Johnson thought the team faced a tough opponent in the Crimson and said that the Bulldogs would build off of the defeat.
“It just didn’t click, and we didn’t play at the level that we needed to,” Johnson said. “Harvard is a great team, and [it] played an unbelievable game, and we just didn’t take care of the small things we needed to take care of.”
It looks as though it may come down to the wire for Yale in the Elis’ run for a fifth consecutive Ivy League championship. Players and coaches expressed the hope that this loss would serve as a learning experience and that the team remains excited for the final few games.
Yale will play at Columbia and Cornell this upcoming weekend.