The Yale volleyball team will seek to maintain its current seven-game win streak and undefeated conference record in games against Penn and Princeton this weekend.
Boasting back-to-back Ivy League championship titles, the Bulldogs (7–5, 3–0 Ivy) have enjoyed a strong start to their play. This weekend marks the second of three straight weekends with two games over two days. Currently tied for first in the league with Cornell, the Elis have a significant edge over Penn (7–5, 0–3 Ivy), which currently ranks last. The Bulldogs anticipate a dogfight against Princeton (6–6, 2–1 Ivy), however, as the team from New Jersey is currently ranked third in the league.
“We’re super pumped [for this weekend],” captain and middle blocker Izzy Simqu ’20 said. “We know we have some tough competition ahead on the road, but our preseason prepared us for a lot of travel, and I know we are working hard every day in the gym to scout, get better and take on Princeton and Penn.”
Princeton’s only conference falter thus far was against Cornell — a team that the Bulldogs have yet to play. The Tigers faced a similarly challenging preseason schedule, beginning the season with three straight losses at the Rutgers Tournament. They also fell to Oregon and Maryland but then rallied to maintain a four-match win streak before their loss to Cornell. The Tigers are 2–2 for home matches so far this season, compared to the Bulldogs’ perfect home-court record.
For the past couple of years, Princeton has consistently appeared near the top of the Ivy League. In 2017, the Tigers and the Bulldogs split the championship title, with Princeton winning the ultimate face-off to see who would progress to the NCAA Tournament. Last season, Yale fell to the Tigers in New Jersey. But the Elis downed Princeton when playing within the friendly confines of John J. Lee Amphitheater.
In an interview with the News, head coach Erin Appleman expressed no doubts or worries regarding the team’s play on the road.
“I actually feel like there’s less distraction on the road — you’re just kind of taking care of business, so you’re all focused on the matches ahead,” Appleman said.
Penn enjoyed a relatively successful preseason schedule, falling in only two of nine matches played. Like the Bulldogs, the Quakers traveled across the country to compete and played first at the Crosstown Invitational in Pennsylvania and two weeks later at the UC Riverside Invitational in California. However, they’ve fared poorly in conference play thus far, losing 0–3, 2–3, 1–3 to Princeton, Cornell and Columbia respectively.
Historically, the Bulldogs have fared well against the Quakers. Since 2010, the Elis have only lost to them once. Last season, Yale defeated Penn 3–0 in both match-ups.
“We’ve had a great time playing on our home court for the last few weeks, but it will be exciting to switch it up and hit the road to play Penn and Princeton,” outside hitter Tiffany Pedersen-Henry ’23 said. “It should be a really fun weekend.”
Following this weekend’s matches, the Elis will have yet to square up against just two more Ancient Eight foes — Columbia and Cornell. The teams currently hold 8–5 and 10–2 records respectively, with the Big Red boasting an undefeated conference record.
The Bulldogs face Penn on Saturday at 5 p.m. and then travel to New Jersey to compete against Princeton on Sunday at 1 p.m. Both games will be streamed on ESPN+.
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