Maintaining its place at the top of the Ivy League rankings, the Yale volleyball team conquered Brown for the second time this season last Saturday.
So far this year, the Bulldogs (11–6, 7–1 Ivy) have only fallen to one conference foe: Cornell. The victory over the Bears (10–8, 2–6 Ivy) moved the Elis closer to their ultimate goal of Ivy League champions. Yet, in order to win this title, the Bulldogs must win every other Ivy match in the season. Despite tight and tense individual sets, the score highlights Yale as the dominant team. The Blue and White secured the win over three straight sets: 25–22, 26–24, 25–21.
“I think we had flashes of really strong execution and we were fortunate in the sense that those flashes came at the right time — towards the end of sets and when things were tight,” setter Franny Arnautou ’20 said. “Brown has some very talented players and they performed really well which made this a challenging match for us. Overall, we’re glad to have gotten the win and also to have learned some things we need to improve [upon].”
The Bears ferociously challenged Yale in the first set, gaining a 14–7 lead in the first 21 points of the game. The Bulldogs did not emerge ahead until they secured two consecutive points after being tied at 20 apiece. Bruno rookie Sophia Miller notched two more kills, yet the effort was not enough to sideline the Elis, who ultimately clinched the set 25–22.
The second and third sets both featured five lead changes and over 10 ties each. The Elis’ focus and determination led them to a successful comeback from a 23–19 deficit during the second set. Five straight points in favor of the Bulldogs gave them the momentum to eventually finish off 26–24.
Over the course of the match, Brown demonstrated significant offensive strength as both Makena Ehlert and Sophia Miller tallied 17 kills. For the Elis, outside hitter Ellis DeJardin ’22 led with 10 kills, and middle blocker Sam Bray ’22 assisted the Blue and White with four blocks. Arnautou totaled 33 assists — two more than in the previous game against Brown. The senior setter continues to outpace the rest of the field, posting 540 more assists than the next closest Eli and 150 more than Brown’s leader, Kristin Sellers.
The victory represents head coach Erin Appleman’s 300th win in her time as a coach.
“We still have to focus on ourselves, and we have to continue to get better,” Appleman said. “Part of playing everybody twice is that [they] are going to be better the second time you play them. Brown’s outside hitters were able to score, and we struggled to make an adjustment and stop that. There were definitely some good things that happened, but there were definitely things we can continue to improve on and get better for sure.”
The Elis rose back to the top of the leaderboard after defeating Cornell on Oct. 19, yet maintaining this position is no easy feat.
All three conference leaders — Cornell, Princeton and Yale — came out of this weekend victorious, advancing each team to a 7–1 Ivy League record. Cornell hosts Princeton next Friday, which will upset the rankings of the top three as they stand. In their last match-up, the Big Red bested the Tigers 3–1.
“[Our] match against Brown wasn’t our best showing this year, but we were able to come back from behind and fight hard, not dropping a set,” captain and middle blocker Izzy Simqu ’20 said. “We’re looking to play harder this weekend on the road and know that we can take care of business with confidence and urgency at every point.”
The Blue and White compete in four more away games before returning to John J. Lee Amphitheater. The Bulldogs travel to Hanover and Cambridge next weekend to play Dartmouth and Harvard, respectively.
The Elis play against the Big Green at the Leede Arena on Friday at 7 p.m.
Margaret Hedeman | firstname.lastname@example.org