Feb. 12, 2005
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - With four 3-0 sweeps and a dramatic, 3-2, comeback win, the top-ranked Yale women's squash team defeated No. 2 Harvard 5-4 to capture the Ivy League title and its second straight national dual-match championship in a matchup of unbeaten teams Saturday afternoon at the Murr Center.
Freshman Miranda Ranieri lost the first two games of her match at No. 4, but came back strong, giving up just two points while winning three straight games to help Yale (10-0, 5-0 Ivy) go up 4-3.
Catherine McLeod then clinched the win for the Elis. She took a tight first game 10-8, then cruised to 9-0 and 9-2 wins in the final two games to seal the match before the No. 1 match had been decided.
"To play through the crowd, Harvard's homecourt advantage and the pressure of trying to repeat, this was an outstanding win," said head coach Dave Talbott, in his first season at the helm of the women's team. "Harvard is a strong team and we knew it would be tough."
It was the first time any of the Bulldogs had defeated the Crimson (7-1, 5-1) in Cambridge.
"Defending a title is hard enough, and doing it on someone else's court is really tough," said senior captain Frances Ho. "Our team has a lot of heart; that's how we won today."
Yale's other three wins came by 3-0 scores. At No. 2, Amy Gross got through two close games before closing it out with a 9-0 win in the third. Kate Rapisarda had a similar win at No. 9, winning the first game 10-8 and the third 9-0. Lauren McCrery won 9-4, 9-0, 9-3 at No. 8.
"We've been through a lot this season with the coaching change," Ho said. "It was great to win here, to defend our title and get a championship for Dave."
The team match was decided just as a thrilling No. 1 contest was getting started. Harvard's Kyla Grigg won a pair of 10-8 games to get a 2-1 lead on defending individual national champ Michelle Quibell. Yale's top player came back to win the fourth game 9-2 and trimmed a fifth-game deficit from 8-3 to 8-7 before Grigg finally won.
The teams could meet again at next week's Howe Cup team tournament at Princeton.
1. Kyla Grigg (H) def. Michelle Quibell, 10-8, (9-3), 10-9, (9-2), 9-7
2. Amy Gross (Y) def. Lindsey Wilkins, 9-7, 9-6, 9-1
3. Catherine McLeod (Y) def. Jennifer Blumberg, 10-8, 9-0, 9-2
4. Miranda Ranieri (Y) def. Audrey Duboc, (9-4), (10-8), 9-1, 9-1, 9-0
5. Supriya Balsekar (H) def. Frances Ho, 9-5, 9-1, 9-2
6. Lydia Williams (H) def. Lauren Doline, 9-3, 9-3, 9-3
7. Allison Fast (H) def. Rachita Vora, 9-7, 9-7, 9-5
8. Lauren McCrery (Y) def. Hilary Thorndike, 9-4, 9-0, 10-3
9. Kate Rapisarda (Y) def. Stephanie Hendricks, 10-8, 9-4, 9-0
report by Casey Hart, Yale Sports Publicity