Lukas Flippo, Photography Editor

In interviews with the News, members of Yale’s varsity volleyball team expressed a common theme: hope and optimism.

The Bulldogs remained in touch via Zoom activities and continued to host modified practices throughout the year. While the Ivy League has yet to announce its plans for the fall season, the team is preparing to compete.

“I’m excited to get back to my teammates, and I miss all the people that I haven’t seen in a while,” team captain and outside hitter Ellis DeJardin ’22 told the News. “Mostly, I just miss being with them and having that extra outlet as a kind of break from school and grinding. We get to focus on a different kind of grind — one that works with teamwork and competition. … I’m looking forward to that.”

Despite fewer students on campus this fall, the four team members in New Haven have been able to practice and interact throughout the semester. They have been working on conditioning and modified drills to stay in shape. DeJardin noted that the spring semester was “much smoother” than last fall, with fewer phase restarts and more consistent practices.

Another concern of team members has been connecting with the team’s most recent recruits, as well as those on leaves of absence. If the Ivy League green lights competition for the fall, there would be two classes of players, 2024 and 2025, who have yet to compete at a collegiate level. As captain, DeJardin noted that this would change how the fall looks in terms of team culture and team chemistry. Still, she noted that she is “not worried” and hopes to plan events that allow the women to spend time together outside of practice and competition.

Libero Maile Somera ’24 was one of five players who took at least one semester off this academic year. She noted that being on a gap semester requires her to “stay prepared” and put in more effort to stay connected to members.

“It’s difficult being on a gap year because we can’t technically be involved in official Yale volleyball meetings,” Somera said. “We just have to make the most out of the online situation.”

While Somera was not on campus in the fall to welcome new members, she noted that after speaking with fellow athletes, she gets the sense that nerves aside, everyone is excited to “wear the Y” next fall.

During a phone interview, head coach Erin Appleman said that she is “anxiously awaiting” information about the upcoming season and is “hopeful” for a safe fall. She said she hopes students and athletes get vaccinated to facilitate a return back to normal proceedings.

“I don’t think [a return to normal will happen] that quickly,” Appleman said. “It’s gonna take some time.”

The Yale volleyball team has won 11 Ivy League volleyball championships in their history. 

Ángela Pérez | 

Ángela Pérez is City Editor of the YDN. She was a former beat reporter, covering City Hall and Women's Volleyball. She was a former editor and writer for the WKND desk. She is from Puerto Rico and plans to major in Architecture.