Yale Athletics

This past weekend, the Yale women’s volleyball team (5–3, 0–0 Ivy) took on the Northwestern Wildcats  (6–4, 0–0 B10) and the Loyola Chicago Ramblers (2–9, 0–0 A10) in Chicago, Illinois as a part of the Hampton Inn Invitational.

After excelling at the Yale Invitational the weekend prior, the Bulldogs sought to extend their four-game win streak in preparation for the start of conference play next weekend. 

Mila Yarich ’25 has been a key player for the Bulldogs this year. She told the News that the team felt elated to play against big competition.

“Chicago was a super exciting environment,” she said. “Going in, we knew we were playing challenging teams and that this was an opportunity for growth, as well as an opportunity to prepare us for conference play.”

At the invitational, Yale faced the Northwestern Wildcats, their first Big 10 opponent since 2019. Gigi Barr ’25 returned to her home state after coming off a 13-kill game against the University of Connecticut (5–7, 0–0 Big East). The Wildcats went to work against the Bulldogs, posting a 3–0 victory, with set wins of 25–22, 25–19 and 25–13. Julia Sangiacomo and Leilani Dodson each posted 11 kills for Northwestern. Despite the eight kills of both Barr and Betsy Goodenow ’27, the typically-powerful offense of the Bulldogs hushed against the hiss of the Cats.

Yarich said the team learned a lot from their battle against Northwestern.

“The mindset going into the match was that this is such an incredible opportunity to play against a Big 10 team like Northwestern,” she said. “Though not the outcome we wanted, it was a great opportunity to grow. There were so many amazing plays and rallies during the match that showed our grit and resilience as a team.”

The Bulldogs have shown their adaptability to adversity throughout the season, often battling back after losses to major opponents.

Team captain Maile Somera ’24 said that the team prospers when they fall back on their hard work over the course of the year.

“No matter the challenge, we will approach it together,” Somera said to the News. “We rely on the preparation and confidence we have built through the season.”

The next day, Yale faced off against Loyola Chicago, the host of the tournament. The first set saw the decisive Bulldogs come out on top, winning 25–22. The Ramblers fought back in the next set, winning 29–27 and evening the match. 

Soon after, Yale quieted their opponent with dominant wins of the next two sets, 25–21 and 25–17, respectively. Bree Borum snagged a double-double against the Blue and White, but failed to stop the swings of Barr and Isabella Mendoza ’26, who each had 10 kills in the match. Most notably, Carly Diehl ’25 narrowly missed a triple-double and Goodenow reached her first double-double, notching a season-high 17 kills. Goodenow also hit .421 in the match with 10 digs, securing her place as Ivy League Rookie of the Week.

Somera told the News about the team’s enthusiasm in beginning conference play, emphasizing the importance of challenging one another.

“We’re very excited to start conference play and test ourselves after a challenging, competitive preseason,” she said to the News. “My leadership role does not change once we start Ivy play. My goal is always to instill confidence and encourage our team to compete in the face of adversity.”

Yarich echoed Somera’s sentiment, perfectly summing up the goals of the team.

“We have prepared for the big moments as well as the small ones and I’m excited to show who we are as Yale Volleyball. And, of course, chasing after another conference title,” she said.

The Bulldogs take on the Brown University Bears (9–1, 0–0 Ivy) to start Ivy League play this Friday, Sept. 22. They will play at home at the John J. Lee Amphitheater inside Payne Whitney Gymnasium at 7 p.m.

Meredith Henderson covers women's basketball and field hockey. She is a first-year in Saybrook College from Keller, Texas. She plays varsity softball and is majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing.