Lukas Flippo, Senior Photographer

After three long weekends on the road, the Blue and White will finally return home this week to face off against Ivy League rivals Penn (6–13–0, 3–7 Ivy) and Princeton (13–5–0, 7–3 Ivy) in the familiar confines of the John J. Lee Amphitheatre. 

The Yale volleyball team (14–5–0, 7–3 Ivy) heads into the weekend matchups on a four-game winning streak. The squad captured key victories in its last road trip, including a triumphant rematch against Brown and a double Ivy sweep against Cornell and Columbia. This week, the Bulldogs hope to continue their successful run as they face off against Penn on Friday at 7 p.m. and against Princeton on Saturday at 5 p.m. 

“We are so excited to play at home this weekend and defend our court,” libero Maile Somera ’24 said. “Princeton and Penn are two big games that will really determine our placement in the League this year, and we are as ready as could be to prove we are the better program this weekend.”

The volleyball team’s last encounter with both opponents took place on the road. The Bulldogs fell against Princeton, then the top-ranked team in the Ivy League, in a hard-fought four-set game on Oct. 15. However, the Elis brushed off the loss the next day with a strong performance in a 3–1 win against Penn.

The Quakers are currently ranked sixth in the conference standings, but they are coming into the match-up with a win after a five-set thriller against Harvard. Though Princeton started the season strong with six consecutive wins, the squad now finds itself in a small rough patch after losing its two matches against Harvard and Dartmouth. Yale and Princeton are currently tied in second place in the Ancient Eight.

“For us, it’s just about continuing to get better as a team,” Yale volleyball head coach Erin Appleman said about the squad’s mentality going forward. “We are working on the things we’re good at and also working on the things that we are not so good at. We’re just really focusing on ourselves and doing what we can do to affect the matches.”

There are only four matches left in the season. The last games of Ivy play will take place next week against Dartmouth and Harvard. This week’s matches are the team’s last at home, and they will be especially significant for certain members of the Bulldogs’ upperclassman core. 

“We all cannot wait to play Penn and Princeton again and see how [our] away games have helped us grow as a team,” middle hitter Fatima Samb ’25 wrote to the News. “Most importantly, we are so ready to play hard for our amazing senior class and honor their careers and leadership on Senior Night against Princeton.”

The team’s seniors — captain and outside hitter Ellis DeJardin ’22, right-side hitter Ashley Dreyer ’22, outside hitter Lauren Potter ’22 and outside hitter Kathryn Attar ’22 — will be honored this Saturday on Senior Night, the final home match of their college athletic careers. With their families in the stands, the senior players will be formally recognized for all they have contributed to Yale Volleyball during their four years.

Yale’s last home match this season came against Dartmouth on Oct. 9. Almost 400 attendees were present as the dominant Bulldogs defeated the Big Green 3–1. Attendance at volleyball games has been solid this season, usually featuring a few hundred supporters. Support reached its peak in the contest against Harvard, when more than 800 people arrived to cheer for the Blue and White. This year, the Bulldogs are 5–3 at home. 

“It’s great,” Appleman said to the News about the team’s return to New Haven. “We’ve had three weekends on the road and we are looking forward to coming back into the comfortable environment of JLA. Hopefully we can get a good home crowd and have a good time there.”

The Elis have 21 wins against Penn and 17 wins against Princeton since 2007.

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.