VOLLEYBALL: Bulldogs fall just short of sweep at UConn Challenge
The Yale volleyball team won its matches against NJIT and Bryant but lost to in-state rival and tournament host UConn last weekend.
Last weekend, the Yale volleyball team’s six-game winning streak ended as the Bulldogs fell one match short of achieving their second-straight tournament sweep this fall.
Despite the loss against UConn (8–4, 0–0 Big East), the Bulldogs (7–2, 0–0 Ivy) delivered a solid overall performance with a total of 144 kills and 171 digs in the Challenge. The Blue and White’s serving prowess was also on full display during the tournament. The team had seven aces against New Jersey Institute of Technology (1–11, 0–0 America East), eight against Bryant (6–8, 0–0 Northeast) and eight against UConn.
“Even with the addition of more new players than normal due to COVID, our team chemistry is better than ever,” outside hitter Bonnie Bostic ’24 wrote to the News. “Everyone is extremely supportive and dedicated to improving as individuals and as a team. We are very lucky to have such a great group.”
The team started the tournament off strong, winning their fifth consecutive game this season against the Highlanders. Bostic and Maile Somera ’24 kept up their stellar performance from the Stony Brook Invitational — Bostic led the game in kills with 12, and Somera led in digs, tallying 17. Sam Bray ’23 pushed the team forward to 7–0 in the third set, scoring one kill and two consecutive solo blocks.
On Saturday afternoon, the Elis defeated Bryant extending their winning streak to six games. Bostic kept up her performance with 15 kills, and the team pulled off a 3–1 defeat.
“We really competed at a high level this weekend,” head coach Erin Appleman told the News in a phone call. “I’m excited to see what’s going to happen and who’s going to shine [in the next tournaments].”
Appleman also noted that the scheduling this season worked in the team’s favor by allowing the Bulldogs to compete multiple times before starting Ivy League play. She also shared her excitement about the next three weekends being home games for the Bulldogs.
Outside hitter Tiffany Pedersen-Henry ’23 and setter Carly Diehl ’25 were named to the all-tournament team. Pedersen-Henry hit .354 throughout the tournament and made 28 kills in total. Diehl made 98 assists, five service aces and 21 digs in the Challenge.
The UConn Challenge marked the end of the season’s nonconference matches. Next, the Bulldogs will face the Brown Bears in their first Ivy League game of the season. The Yale volleyball team has been Ivy League champions or co-champions in nine of the last 12 seasons and was voted as the preseason favorite in the 2021 Ivy League Preseason Volleyball Poll.
“Our goal is always, of course, to be Ivy Champs,” captain and outside hitter Ellis DeJardin ’22 told the News. “But because we don’t know the makeup of other schools, since it’s been a year and a half since we’ve competed against [them], it’s definitely going to be a level up of competition from what we’re used to. But we’re looking forward to competing at a high level.”
Yale’s home game against Brown will take place in the John J. Lee Amphitheater on Friday at 7:30 p.m.