Rolling off a three-game win streak and recent victory over former league-leading foe Cornell, the Yale volleyball team looks to go undefeated this weekend against Dartmouth and Harvard with the end goal of the Ivy League championship in its sight.
The Bulldogs (11–6, 7–1 Ivy) have demonstrated significant success thus far at the John J. Lee Amphitheater, posting an 8–0 home record. However, going 2–3 on the road and 1–3 neutral, the Elis have yet to prove themselves as a successful traveling team — mainly due to the tough competition they faced in California and Indiana during the preseason. After defeating Brown last weekend 25–18, 26–24, 25–21, the Blue and White seeks to add two more victories to its season count. The Bulldogs already defeated Dartmouth (7–11, 2–6 Ivy) and Harvard (4–13, 2–6 Ivy) earlier this year, yet the second half of the season represents an opportunity for both teams to resolve their defeats. Yale’s Ancient Eight foes are tied for last place in the conference. Despite its losing record, the Big Green forced Yale into four sets when they last faced off in early October.
“[Dartmouth and Harvard] are two teams that I don’t think their record indicates how good they are,” head coach Erin Appleman said. “I feel like both of them have really good hitters. Dartmouth is obviously very good at blocking, and both [teams] have people that can make plays and do things. We are on the road, so for me, it’s more of a focus on what can we do.”
In their last matchup, Yale defeated Dartmouth 25–15, 23–25, 25–15, 25–19 with middle blocker Samantha Bray ’22 adding 17 kills and setter Franny Arnautou ’20 posting 44 assists and 11 blocks with an impressive 0.727 hitting percentage. The Bulldogs are currently running a historic eight-game winning streak — the longest that they have ever had against the Big Green. No matter, Dartmouth appears to have regained some strength after suffering several conference losses. The Big Green hosts Yale this weekend coming off of a two-game win streak. One of these victories came against Harvard and the other against New Hampshire — a momentary break from Ivy play last Saturday.
So far this season, Harvard has defeated Brown 3–0 and Penn 3–1 while the Elis bested both Ancient Eight teams 3–0. Rookie Ashley Wang leads the Crimson in assists and recorded a season-high 25 last weekend against the Big Green. Mindie Mabry, arguably Harvard’s star player, has played in all sets this season and leads the Crimson with 2.39 kills per set. Right side hitter Rebekah Nemeth ’20, in comparison, leads Yale in kills per set, registering 2.69.
“We are all focused on making improvements as we face opponents for the second time,” Nemeth said. “Our main goal is all about bringing our best level of play to the court and to work together to get stronger with each match.”
Harvard has lost twice already to the Big Green — suggesting that the Crimson is the weaker team over this weekend stint.
With three teams currently tied at the top of the Ivy standings — Cornell, Princeton and Yale — the race to the Ivy title has been in hot contention all season long. Each of these teams have defeated one of the others; Cornell toppled Princeton, Princeton celebrated over Yale and Yale conquered Cornell. The next closest conference foe, Columbia, is four wins behind these three powerhouses. A loss at this point in the season would most likely render Yale out of contention.
Arnautou won the Ivy League Player of the Week, serving as the first Bulldog to win the weekly honors this season after the Elis collected nine in total for 2018.
“We have been working hard in practice this week and are focusing on getting better,” outside hitter Bonnie Bostic ’23 said. “We are excited to compete on the road this weekend.”
This weekend, the Bulldogs travel to Hanover to square up against the Big Green on Friday at 7 p.m. before competing against the Crimson in Cambridge on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Margaret Hedeman | firstname.lastname@example.org