The Yale volleyball team holds fast to first place after notching two more wins on the road this weekend against Columbia and Cornell.
The Bulldogs (14–7, 10–2 Ivy) defeated the Lions (7–14, 3–9 Ivy) in four sets on Friday. After winning the first two sets 25–20 and 26–24, Yale lost the third set 16–25 to Columbia but came back 25–18 in the fourth set to finish up the match.
Just as they did earlier in the season, Yale fought back from a third set loss to defeat Columbia. With setter Kelly Johnson ’16 serving, Yale jumped out to a 10–6 lead early on in the fourth set. Though the Lions came back to tie the game at 16–16, the Bulldogs managed to side out and rack up seven more points, putting them at 23–16. A kill by captain Mollie Rogers ’15 and an ace by libero Tori Shepherd ’17 clinched the win for Yale.
Rogers and Johnson posted double-doubles in kills and digs. Rogers contributed a team-best 18 kills and 16 digs, while Johnson racked up 14 kills, 12 digs and eight assists, putting her just two assists away from a triple-double. Setter Kelsey Crawford ’18, middle blocker Jesse Ebner ’16 and libero Maddie Rudnick ’15 also put in at least 10 digs apiece.
Rogers, who hit an impressive 0.333 in the first set, noted that the team truly had to earn their win over an underrated Columbia squad.
“Columbia is a really good team, and I don’t think their record really reflects that,” Rogers said. “I thought they played well in the third, but I also think we did a great job coming back in the fourth, so I feel like that really says a lot about us and how much we’ve learned.”
The next day, the Bulldogs swept the Big Red (5–17, 2–10 Ivy) 3–0 for the second time this season. The scores of the match were 25–22, 27–25 and 25–20. The second set was a point-by-point nail-biter in which Yale never led by more than three points. With the game tied at 25, Crawford set Johnson up for a kill to regain the lead. A setting error by Cornell ended the second set with a win for the Bulldogs.
Once again, Johnson and Rogers powered the Bulldogs to victory on Saturday night with both players recording double-doubles. Yale hit 0.269 while Cornell managed just 0.151. The Elis also notched five aces on the night. On defense, four bulldogs, including Rogers, Johnson, Crawford and Rudnick, all had no less than 11 digs.
Johnson, who led the pack with 20 digs of her own, remarked that despite the final scores, both Cornell and Columbia put up fairly strong challenges.
“We fought back a couple times when [Cornell] was leading, and we were able to win in three games,” Johnson said. “Both matches were very similar to the first time we played them. Both teams came out really strong, and we were able to combat that.”
Head coach Erin Appleman noted that the team had an advantage going into the matches having already faced both teams earlier in the season. In fact, both the Cornell and Columbia matches ended with the same set scores as when the teams first met.
Appleman also emphasized that the team felt confident in its current standing as a result of the experience gained from four consecutive Ivy League championships.
“We’ve been in this position before, and the team is comfortable in this position … We have two really good teams coming in this weekend, and hopefully we can get a big crowd support to get the victories that we need,” Appleman said.
The Bulldogs will play Princeton and Penn at home this weekend in the final two conference games of the 2014 season.