Stepping back on its home court fresh after a win against Brown last weekend, the Yale volleyball team seeks to defeat two more Ivy foes this weekend: rivals Harvard and Dartmouth.
The Bulldogs (5–5, 1–0 Ivy) dominated the Bears (8–3, 0–1 Ivy) last Saturday, winning handily in three straight sets. While this victory rolled Yale onto a five-match win streak and kept the Elis’ undefeated home court record, intact Harvard (2–8, 0–1 Ivy) and Dartmouth (5–5, 1–0 Ivy) pose new threats.
“We’re really excited for these match-ups with both teams,” middle blocker Chiara Spain ’21 said. “We are finally just getting this rhythm playing Ivy League competitors — playing Harvard on Friday and Dartmouth on Saturday. We’ve been going hard this week, and the team is super eager.”
Historically, the Bulldogs have had mixed results against the Crimson. Between 2015 and 2017, Yale and Harvard split their two conference matches. Last season, however, the Bulldogs ended this streak and pulled away with two wins against their rivals from Cambridge.
By contrast, the Elis have reigned over Dartmouth for the past few years, having not lost to the Big Green since 2015. Despite these results, Dartmouth proved themselves the team to beat after they defeated Harvard 3–2 last weekend. In addition, going into the weekend Dartmouth and Yale have the exact same non-conference and conference records, which sets the stage for a bout that will have an immediate impact on the league standings.
“We’ve been in the gym every day focusing on ourselves and what we can do to get better,” outside hitter Tiffany Pedersen-Henry ’23 said. “It will be Family Weekend, so we’re really looking forward to having our parents at our games to see how hard we’ve been working.”
Sacred Heart is so far the only common competitor between Harvard and Yale this season. The Crimson managed to edge the Pioneers 3–2 while the Elis shut them out 3–0. Dartmouth and Yale have played no common out-of-conference teams.
Despite the Big Green grabbing a win over Harvard last weekend, the Bulldogs outshine Dartmouth in almost every element of play. Makenzie Arent, a stand-out rookie setter, leads Dartmouth in both service ace and assists, posting 12 and 264 respectively. The Blue and White’s setter, Franny Arnatou ’20, however, dwarfs Arent’s number of assists, coming in with a total of 341 so far this season. As a team, the Elis also dominate over the Big Green in kills, assists, aces, and blocks.
Harvard has posted similar statistics in comparison to Yale, with both teams delivering exactly 59 service aces and 424 assists. The Bulldogs edge out the Crimson slightly in both kills and digs.
Right side attacker Jaimie Rao has posted dominant performances for Harvard in her last several matches, delivering a career-high 19 kills in its match against Dartmouth last week. Outside hitter Mindy Mabry has also proven to be a top scorer thus far this season, registering double-digit kill counts in three straight matches and recording a season-high hitting percentage of .435 against Syracuse.
The Crimson played the Orange in their most recent non-conference match — the same team that the Elis lost to in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last fall. Harvard was able to sneak away with one set, falling 3–1, while the Orange shut out the Bulldogs 3–0 in 2018.
“Since Harvard is our rival school, I think it’s going to be an exciting match,” outside hitter Ashley Dreyer ’22 said. “We want to bring a lot of energy to the court and continue to dominate at home.”
The Bulldogs compete against Harvard on Friday at 7 p.m. and against Dartmouth on Saturday at 5 p.m., both at John J. Lee Amphitheater. The first 100 spectators at Friday’s game will receive a “Beat Harvard” t-shirt courtesy of Yale Athletics.
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