Lukas Flippo, Photo Editor

At the Yale Invitational last weekend, the Bulldogs came in ready to win their first games since the start of the pandemic two years ago.

Despite a loss against Syracuse (6–0–0, 0–0 ACC), the Yale volleyball team (2–1–0, 0–0 Ivy) delivered two dominant showings at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. Yale beat Hartford (1–5–0, 0–0 America East) 3–0 and fell to Syracuse on Friday before sweeping Quinnipiac (1–5–0, 0–0 MAAC) in the final match of the nonconference tournament.

“I think we’re just really focusing on ourselves right now,” Yale volleyball head coach Erin Appleman told the News. “Finding a lineup, finding out what we can do, who can do what and starting to trust each other as a team.”

Head coach Erin Appleman looked on as Yale hosted Syracuse Friday night. (Photo: William McCormack, Contributing Photographer)

The Bulldogs controlled the pace of the game in both of their matches against Hartford and Quinnipiac. Point differences between Yale and the Hawks increased with every set — Yale won its match against Hartford 25–20, 25–18 and 25–13.

The team’s first-year talent shone and played a critical role in the Bulldogs’ two wins. Setter Carly Diehl ’25 and middle hitter Gigi Barr ’25 were outstanding as starters in all three matches. Diehl set the momentum for Yale’s victories with 10 kills and 61 assists over the course of the weekend.

Barr had 24 kills throughout the Invitational and was named to the all-tournament team alongside libero Maile Somera ’24. First years like libero Bella Chan ’25, outside hitter Mila Yarich ’25 and outside hitter Cara Shultz ’25 also appeared in their first career games for the Elis over the weekend.

Yale players celebrated a point against Syracuse on Friday night. (Photo: William McCormack, Contributing Photographer)

Somera was one of five players who took a leave of absence last year. Her performance this weekend was a significant part of the Bulldog’s triumph over Hartford and Quinnipiac. Another player who took a year off, outside hitter Bonnie Bostic ’24, also performed well and had 14 kills against Quinnipiac. 

Other upperclassmen also contributed to the two-win start. Senior outside hitter Kathryn Attar ’22 and junior outside hitter Tiffany Pedersen-Henry ’23 made 10 and 19 kills, respectively.

“I think that there’s always a certain layer of dust to us that you got to just knock off after this much time without playing, but I think that we started off strong and continued to play really well as a team,” Somera said after the weekend slate.

Due to the pandemic, the team had two classes of players that competed at the collegiate level for the first time this weekend. Appleman praised captain and outside hitter Ellis DeJardin ’22 for her work in uniting the team after over a year apart. Somera also emphasized that the team has been working well together and spending time getting to know each other outside of a Zoom room. 

“It was so inexplicably nice to be able to compete again at our home court, with fans in the bleachers and everything,” DeJardin wrote to the News. “We were able to play some competitive matches in which everyone on the team contributed — truly felt like we had some team wins this past weekend.”

Appleman noted that she chose the teams invited to the tournament — Hartford, Quinnipiac and Syracuse. Regarding the loss against Syracuse, she emphasized that playing against a strong team like the Orange challenges the team as a whole. 

The John J. Lee Amphitheater, with upgraded lighting and two new video boards, featured masked students excited to cheer on the Bulldogs for the first time in almost two years. Attendance was listed as 163 for Yale’s game versus Hartford and 631 for its Friday night match with Syracuse.

Signs that read “Vaccinated Guests Only” surrounded the stands at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. (Photo: William McCormack, Contributing Photographer)

Yale will travel to New York this upcoming weekend to compete in the Stony Brook Invitational. The Elis will play against the University of St. Thomas on Friday and then Stony Brook and Tarleton State the next day. In the all-time series, the Bulldogs are currently undefeated against host Stony Brook, boasting a 5–0 record against the Seawolves.

After its nonconference tournaments, Yale will return home and face Brown on Sept. 24 to kick off the Ivy League season.

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.
Wei-Ting Shih covers baseball, volleyball and women's basketball as a staff reporter. Originally from Taiwan and Nicaragua, she is a sophomore in Grace Hopper College double-majoring in Ethics, Politics & Economics and History.