The Yale volleyball team will face off against Columbia and Cornell this weekend in its last two away games of the season.
Yale (12–7, 8–2 Ivy) seeks to deal the seventh place Lions (7–12, 3–7 Ivy) and eighth place Big Red (5–15, 2–8 Ivy) another loss each. Three weeks ago, Yale defeated Cornell in an impressive 3–0 sweep. The next night, the Elis defeated Columbia 3–1 at home in a match that featured powerful performances by captain Mollie Rogers ’15 and setter Kelly Johnson ’16, who had 26 and 22 kills respectively, the most by any Bulldog all season.
Additionally, libero Maddie Rudnick ’15, Rogers and setter Kelsey Crawford ’18 earned Ivy League Honor Roll mentions for their outstanding showings in last weekend’s matches against Dartmouth and Harvard. The triple threat put up 33 digs, 30 kills and 73 assists, respectively.
But despite those gaudy statistics, the Elis lost their second conference match of the year to Harvard in a 3–0 sweep. Now tied for first place with the Crimson, the Bulldogs hope to regain sole control of first place with two wins over the weekend, and given the current standing of the Lions and the Big Red, it is vital that Yale escape the New York trip with a pair of victories.
“We’re kind of excited to get back on the road after the bad loss to Harvard this weekend,” head coach Erin Appleman said. “Right now, we just want to get back at it and play again.”
According to Appleman, Columbia is a well-balanced team with strong hitters, defenders and centers. Middle hitter Katarina Jovicic currently leads the conference with 1.12 blocks per set. Outside hitter Bailey Springer and setter Jennifer Petrovich both rank third in the league with 3.31 kills per set and 9.78 assists per set, respectively.
While Cornell may pose less of a threat than Columbia or other Ivy opponents, Yale cannot afford to completely ignore the Big Red.
Cornell defensive specialist Natasha Rowland leads the league in digs per set, averaging 5.50. Meanwhile, Maddy Sroufe has been named Ivy League Rookie of the Week twice this season, and Macey Wilson and Emily Wemhoff both made the Ivy League Honor Roll last week.
Crawford, who notched 37 assists of her own against Dartmouth, noted that the team will continue to take each game individually.
“It’s our last road trip so we’re going to give it our all,” Crawford said. “We just need to focus … on one game at a time and not look [to] the future right now.”
A couple Elis to watch out for this weekend are Crawford, Rudnick and libero Tori Shepherd ’17, who have been setting and passing extremely well lately, according to Appleman. Powerhouse hitters such as Rogers and Johnson are also expected to rack up more kills on Friday and Saturday.
Rudnick, who had 20 digs in the match against Harvard, said the tie for first has done more to motivate the team than demoralize them.
“If anything, it just focused us more and is going to make us work harder in practice,” Rudnick said. “I think it just sparked our drive rather than added more pressure.”
The Elis will wrap up conference play next weekend by playing Princeton and Penn at home.