VOLLEYBALL: Elis head back on the road to face Princeton and Penn
As the Yale volleyball team wraps up its first round of Ivy League play this weekend, it will seek to improve its conference record in matches against Princeton and Penn. These matchups are also the first away Ivy games of the season for the Bulldogs.
Lukas Flippo, Senior Photographer
The Yale volleyball team (10–4–0, 3–2–0 Ivy) will travel to New Jersey and Pennsylvania this weekend with hopes of moving up the Ivy League rankings.
The Bulldogs will face off against Princeton (11–2–0, 5–0–0 Ivy) on Friday and Penn (5–9–0, 2–3–0 Ivy) on Saturday in critical conference matches. The team will be heading on the road for the first time in a month after three weeks at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. Behind Princeton and Brown, Yale is currently ranked third in the Ivy League standings with a 3–2 conference record.
“[This weekend] is the first time [the team has] been on the road in a while,” Yale volleyball head coach Erin Appleman said in an interview with the News. “I’m looking forward to seeing us be road warriors. We need to go out on the road and win against some good competition.”
Despite falling to Harvard in a close 3–2 match, the Elis wrapped up last weekend on a positive note with a dominant win against Dartmouth. For her outstanding performances on the court, setter Carly Diehl ’25 claimed Rookie of the Week, previously held by outside hitter Mila Yarich ’25.
The last away games the Bulldogs competed in took place in early September. The Blue and White traveled to Storrs, Connecticut, and performed well in the UConn Challenge. They swept NJIT and dominated against Bryant University, beating them 3–1. Prior to that, Yale won all its matches at the Stony Brook Invitational. The Bulldogs will hope to replicate some of that success away from home this upcoming weekend.
“Penn and Princeton are both very solid teams, and I am looking forward to some great competition with both of them this weekend,” outside hitter Audrey Leak ’24 said to the News. “We are all very excited for our first road Ivy matches.”
The Tigers have had a strong season so far and are currently undefeated against other Ancient Eight teams. The squad is going into the weekend with momentum after wins against Columbia and Cornell — two teams that were swept in straight sets by Yale two weeks ago. Princeton’s two losses took place at the beginning of the season in the Towson Tournament. The Tigers were swept in straight sets by host Towson and Loyola.
Penn’s record is comparably less polished. The team is currently fifth in the Ivy League rankings and is coming off a loss against Cornell in straight sets. Yale swept the Quakers in straight sets in its past three matchups, the latest of which came in 2019. Penn has also lost 26 times to the Bulldogs since the turn of the century.
“We are on the road for three straight weekends, and we’ve got to get back some of these wins that we did not win at home,” Appleman told the News about the upcoming matches.
The Bulldogs’ only Ivy losses, against Harvard and Brown, all took place over five hard-fought sets. While this weekend’s matches will be influential in determining the team’s overall Ivy League standing and improving the Bulldogs’ 3–2 record, one player in particular will have an extra incentive to beat Penn.
“[This] weekend I am definitely looking forward to playing against my sister,” Leak told the News about her older sibling, fellow outside hitter Autumn Leak. “She is a junior on the Penn volleyball team and it will be great to see her and get a chance to battle it out on the court.”
The News also reached out to the older Leak sister, who responded with similar enthusiasm and anticipation for the exciting match to come.
“I’m looking forward to not only seeing my sister after two months, but also getting the chance to play against her,” Autumn wrote in a statement to the News. “We’ve played side by side for so long and I can’t wait to finally get the opportunity to compete against her, [as well as] have fun playing the sport I love with my sis!”
The matches are also particularly significant considering Yale’s rivalry against Princeton. During the last active volleyball season in 2019, the Bulldogs pulled an impressive comeback win against the Tigers in five sets, allowing them to clinch their third consecutive Ivy League title. However, only months after, Princeton narrowly defeated Yale, denying the Elis a place in the NCAA tournament. Friday will be a valuable opportunity for a rematch.
“After this weekend, everyone will have played everyone, so it’ll be very exciting to see where we land in the pack,” team captain and outside hitter Ellis DeJardin ’22 wrote to the News. “I’m confident that we can find some wins on the road and work our way to the top.”
The Bulldogs’ first match of the weekend, against the Tigers, will take place in Princeton’s Dillon Gymnasium on Friday, Oct. 15 at 7:00 p.m.