Learning valuable lessons against tough competition, the Yale volleyball team went 0–3 on the road this weekend against three Power Five schools.
The Bulldogs (0–3, 0–0 Ivy) opened their season at the Hoosier Invitational in Bloomington, Indiana, but the quest proved fruitless as the Elis fell to the stacked lineup. On Saturday, the Bulldogs forced Oklahoma (4–2, 0–0 Big 12) into five sets but were unable to hold out and eventually lost 26–24, 21–25, 25–22, 22–25, 15–8. Later the same day, the Blue and White competed against Oregon State (3–2, 0–0 Pac-12) yet fell again in a series of tight sets, resulting in a 25–22, 25–20, 22–25 and 25–17 loss. Sunday’s match proved to be another hard-fought yet disappointing game for the Bulldogs. Fighting their way to four sets against Indiana University (5–2, 0–0 Big Ten), the Elis ultimately lost with a score of 25–23, 25–15, 25–14, 25–16.
“We faced big, athletic teams this past weekend, which has left us better prepared for our upcoming Ivy League matches,” Samantha Bray ’22 said.
In Saturday’s season opener against the Sooners, the Elis came out blazing in the first set, forcing Oklahoma to rally in order to barely grab the win 26–24. Gaining momentum, the Bulldogs attacked in the second set, defeating their opponent 25–21 with critical kills, blocks and aces from Maile Somera ’23, Izzy Simqu ’20 and Franny Arnatou ’20, respectively.
Tied at one a piece, the Sooners took the third set 25–22, but the Elis were quick to rebut, denying the Sooners the match with a 25–22 victory in the fourth set. Young players and outside hitters Bray, Bonnie Bostic ’23 and Ellis DeJardin ’22 all contributed kills to defeat the Sooners.
Forcing a tiebreaker fifth set, the Bulldogs fought hard until the end, but they ultimately succumbed 8–15 in the tiebreak. Still, the close loss proved the Elis could hang with top competitors.
Later that evening, the Elis took the court again to challenge Oregon State, this time coming up short 3–1. However, the Bulldogs hung point for point with the Beavers, finishing the first two sets just narrowly behind at 25–22 and 25–20.
The squad rallied in the third set to deny the Beavers a straight-set victory, winning 25–22 and holding the Beavers to a low .128 hitting percentage. Kills from DeJardin and Renee Shultz ’22 helped propel the team to the set victory.
But the fourth set went decisively to the Beavers at 25–17, concluding another long, grueling match for the Bulldogs.
“I am proud of how hard we played this weekend,” Bostic said. “I think we represented Yale really well, and I am excited for us to continue working hard and getting better.”
On Sunday, the Elis looked to regroup and grab their first win, but the Hoosiers shut Yale down 3–1.
The Bulldogs started out strong, winning the first set 25–23, but the tournament hosts did not back down. Indiana won the next three sets 25–15, 25–14 and 25–16. Despite the loss, several players stood out for Yale, including Rebekah Nemeth ’20, who led the team in kills for the second time this weekend to continue her notable start to this season.
Additionally, Nemeth came out of the weekend with a career-high in kills. She scored 18 against Oklahoma on Friday and 12 against Indiana on Sunday, stats which earned her a spot on the All-Tournament team. Yurika Boyd ’21 set a team-high 17 digs in the game against Indiana.
Throughout the tournament, the Elis managed to pick up at least one set win against all three Power Five opponents, indicating Yale’s ability to hang with top competition.
“I thought we played with a lot of heart and a lot of fight this weekend,” Yale head coach Erin Appleman told Yale Athletics. “I’m super proud of the way we competed at this level against Power Five competition.”
The Bulldogs travel to Los Angeles next weekend to play in a tournament hosted by No. 15 USC, where they will go up against USC on Friday and Villanova and Howard University on Saturday.
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