VOLLEYBALL: Bulldogs aim for second-straight sweep at UConn Challenge
After sweeping the Stony Brook Invitational last week, the Yale volleyball team will seek a repeat performance this weekend at the UConn Challenge, its last tournament before Ivy League play begins.
Lukas Flippo, Photo Editor
After a dominant performance at the Stony Brook Invitational, the Yale volleyball team will head back on the road this weekend looking to extend its current four-game winning streak.
The Bulldogs (5–1–0, 0–0–0 Ivy) have started the season strong. Having won all its matches in the last tournament, the team will travel with momentum to Storrs, Connecticut, this weekend for the UConn Challenge. The Elis are set to play against the New Jersey Institute of Technology (1–8–0, 0–0–0 America East) on Friday in their first match of the tournament. The next day, they will face off against Bryant (5–6–0, 0–0–0 NEC) and wrap up the Challenge with host UConn (5–4–0, 0–0–0 Big East).
“We did a great job coming together as a team and finishing close games,” outside hitter Bonnie Bostic ’24 wrote to the News about the team’s performance last weekend. “This year’s team is incredibly driven and determined. We are looking forward to getting three more good matches under our belts before Ivy League play starts up! After waiting so long to be able to practice or play, every opportunity we get to step on the court is exciting and a little surreal.”
The Bulldogs’ first opponent, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, is heading into the Challenge with a losing streak. After winning their season opener, the Highlanders have fallen to eight consecutive teams. Yale has faced off against NJIT twice in its history, with both matchups ending in 3–0 sweeps in favor of the Bulldogs.
Like Yale, both Bryant and UConn have five wins under their belts. Unlike the Elis, however, Bryant is heading into this weekend’s tournament with a three-game losing streak. Yale’s last matchup against the other Bulldogs took place in 1985 and ended in a 2–1 victory.
“We’ve been working on a couple things in practice that we want to focus on and get better at,” captain and outside hitter Ellis DeJardin ’22 said in a phone interview before the team’s practice Thursday afternoon. “Working on those skills will be a main focus for us in this upcoming weekend’s three matches.”
DeJardin said she could not have asked for a better group of girls on the roster this fall, adding that she feels just as close to her fellow seniors as she does to the team’s first years on and off the court.
“It’s definitely a great environment for us right now,” she added.
Bryant currently leads women’s volleyball teams in their Northeast Conference with 464 total assists and 510 kills. The team also recently swept Harvard at the Northeastern tournament. Yale’s last matchup against UConn was in 2016, when the Bulldogs fell to the Huskies 3–0.
The UConn Challenge is the last nonconference tournament of the season before the Ivy League play begins. Yale, hoping to defend its championship title, starts conference play later than other teams with a home match against Brown next Friday, Sept. 24.
“I think our team has really good chemistry and we all get along with one another really well on and off the court,” right side hitter Ashley Dreyer ’22 wrote to the News. “I’m really excited for the league to start next weekend. We’ve been getting in the gym and working hard, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Yale’s first match of the UConn Challenge against NJIT will take place on Friday at 4 p.m.
Correction, Sept. 19: This story originally gave Dreyer’s position as “left side hitter.” In fact, her position is right side hitter. The story has been updated.