The Yale volleyball team knocked out competitive Ancient Eight foes Harvard and Dartmouth this past weekend, scoring wins that will help the Elis repeat its fruitful 2018 season.
After a victorious matchup against Brown two weeks ago in the conference opener, the Bulldogs (7–5, 3–0 Ivy) took on two new opponents, defeating the Crimson (3–9, 1–2 Ivy) in straight sets, much to the joy of 688 fans on Friday night. The crowd cheered the Elis to a 25–22, 25–23, 25–17 win. While the Saturday game against Dartmouth — who downed Harvard just a week ago — proved more difficult, the Bulldogs managed to eke out a 25–15, 23–25, 25–15, 25–19 victory.
“This weekend challenged us as a team and helped to expose our team identity as super resilient and unrelenting,” outside hitter Ellis DeJardin ’22 said. “We were able to take control from the start of the games, and if we ever lost it, we fought our way back.”
Buoyed by a spirited audience, the Elis bested the Crimson in kills, aces and assists. Middle blocker Samantha Bray ’22 led the pack with 10 kills, while setter Franny Arnautou ’20 had 35 assists and 14 digs. Arnautou was recently named a candidate for the prestigious 2019 Senior CLASS Award in collegiate volleyball, the only Ivy League player of 30 nominees.
Bray helped secure victory in the first set with a kill that gave Yale a 23–20 lead. In the second set, outside hitter Kathryn Attar ’21 pulled the Bulldogs into a 23–23 tie and then decisively notched the set point. Harvard yielded more easily in the third set, calling a timeout at 16–9 and ultimately falling by eight points.
“[It] feels really good to be undefeated in the Ivy League, but there are still so many more games and each match and win helps us get better and develop skills for our next competition,” captain and outside hitter Izzy Simqu ’20 said. “We’re just taking it game by game to really focus in on what we need to do to dominate.”
The Bulldogs lost a 19-set unbeaten streak in their second set against Dartmouth. Though they won the first set handily, the second set was tighter, with an 11–11 tie that continued for six points before the Big Green broke away to take the lead. Bray again dominated with 17 kills, and Simqu trailed closely behind at 15. Arnautou also contributed 44 assists and 10 digs.
Although the Big Green were able to push the Elis into four sets, each winning set’s score reflected Yale’s dominance over Dartmouth. The Bulldogs took the first, third and fourth sets decisively — Dartmouth did not establish adequate competition, failing to hit the 20-point mark in each losing set.
“We had so much fun playing on our home court again this weekend,” outside hitter Bonnie Bostic ’23 said. “It was so nice to see everyone’s families and to have their support. We are looking forward to working hard in practice this week and getting better for our upcoming games.”
Yale’s victories over Harvard and Dartmouth places them tied for first place in the Ivy League with Cornell. So far this season, Cornell has defeated Columbia, Penn and Princeton. The Tigers and the Bulldogs have dominated the court in recent years, and Princeton places third thus far.
The Bulldogs will travel to Philadelphia to square off against Penn next Saturday, followed by a tilt with Princeton on Sunday.
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