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NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Coming off of its seventh straight win, a straight-set thrashing of Brown on Friday night in the Ivy League opener, the Yale volleyball team will host perennial Ancient Eight powers Princeton and Penn in the first full weekend of Ancient Eight competition. In addition to the seven-match win streak overall, the 11-1 Bulldogs have won nine consecutive Ivy League matches and nine straight contests at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. Both of this weekend’s contests will feature live stats and will be streamed live via Yale All-Access.
Last Time Out
The Bulldogs opened Ivy League play on Oct. 2 with a commanding 25-15, 25-11, 25-11 sweep of Brown. Yale got a match-best 10 kills from senior Cat Dailey, as four players totaled seven or more finishers for the Bulldogs. Junior Kelly Ozurovich had a match-high 15 digs to eclipse 1,000 digs for her career. Yale hit a scorching .379 while holding the Bears to a paltry -.009 mark in the sweep.
With last Friday’s sweep of Brown, Yale has matched the best start in program history at 11-1. The 2005 Bulldogs won 11 of their first 12 matches en route to a 20-4 finish. Yale’s 10-1 tally in non-conference contests signifies the best non-league mark for a Yale squad since 2001, when the non-conference schedule was shortened in favor of a 14-match Ivy League slate.
This Is Our House
Yale is 7-0 in home matches this season and has won its last nine contests in the John J. Lee Amphitheater dating back to 2008. The Bulldogs were 9-1 in the Elm City last season, including a 6-1 home record against Ivy League competition.
Scouting the Tigers (Oct. 9 – 7 p.m.)
At 2-10 overall, perennial Ivy League-power Princeton finds itself in the midst of a rebuilding season. However, despite sporting a roster that lost three 2008 All-Ivy players, including 2007 Player of the Year Parker Henrtize, Princeton is not without an experienced core. Six players who saw action during the Tigers’ 14-0 Ivy League season in 2007 remain on the roster in 2009. Leading the way is two-time All-Ivy honoree Sheena Donohue, who is averaging 3.30 kills and 4.17 digs per set. As a team, the Tigers’ offense rank seventh in the Ivy League in hitting percentage (.141), sixth in kills (11.33 per set), sixth in assists (10.62 per set) and last in service aces (0.64 per set). The Princeton defense ranks fifth in opponent hitting percentage (.201), third in digs (17.51 per set) and seventh in blocks (1.47 per set).
Bulldogs vs. Tigers
Yale took both matches with the Tigers in 2008 to close the gap in the all-time series, which Princeton leads, 33-17. One team has taken both ends of the home-and-home series in each of the past four seasons, with each squad completing the sweep twice. The Tigers are the lone Ivy League team against whom Erin Appleman does not own a winning record, as she has split 12 matches with Princeton, 6-6. A Yale win would match its longest win streak against Princeton at three straight. The Tigers won 13 straight in the series from 1997-2003.
In the Year 2008
The Bulldogs swept the Tigers in New Haven on Oct. 17 to snap the Tigers’ 18-match Ivy League winning streak, then took a straight-set victory at Princeton on Nov. 15 to lock up sole possession of the 2008 Ancient Eight crown. Cat Dailey averaged 4.67 kills and 3.83 digs per set against the Tigers in 2008, while Alexis Crusey posted 4.33 kills and 4.17 digs in six frames of action. Of the nine Bulldogs who saw action against Princeton last season, only graduated setter Ally Mendenhall ’09 is not longer on the roster.
Scouting the Quakers (Oct. 10 – 4 p.m.)
The Penn Quakers, who will play at Brown on Friday night, enter the weekend at 10-4 overall and 1-0 in the Ivy League. The lone Ancient Eight team to defeat Yale in 2008, Penn is led by a pair of attackers ranking among the league leaders in kills. Senior Elizabeth Semmens ranks third in the Ivy League with 3.61 kills per set, while freshman Lauren Martin is fifth with 3.32 per frame. Martin also ranks fifth in hitting percentage at .305, while senior Ashley Hawkins in third in efficiency with a .308 percentage. As a team, the Quakers’ offense rank second (behind Yale) in hitting percentage at .256, first in kills (13.77 per set) and first in assists (12.74 per set). Junior Megan Tryon runs the offense to the tune of a league-best 10.98 assists per stanza. Defensively, Penn is fourth in the Ivy League in opponent hitting percentage (.188), third in blocks (1.75 per set) and fifth in digs (16.70 per set).Hawkins rates fourth in the Ancient Eight in blocks with 0.89 per frame, and senior libero Madison Wojciechowski is second in digs with 5.51 per set.
Bulldogs vs. Quakers
Penn leads the all-time series, 24-18, though the Bulldogs are 9-3 against the Quakers with Coach Appleman on the sidelines. Penn swept the season series in 2003, Appleman’s first in the Elm City, and Yale has claimed nine of the last 10 meetings since then, including eight straight in the form of season sweeps in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. Penn took the first 13 matches of the series (1977-90), the longest streak by either team.
In the Year 2008
Yale and Penn split a pair of five-set thrillers in 2008, with each team winning on the road. The Quakers’ win in New Haven on Oct. 18 marked the lone blemish on the Bulldogs’ home (9-1) and Ivy League records (13-1) last season, and remains Yale’s last loss both in New Haven and in Ancient Eight play. Cat Dailey and Alexis Crusey averaged 4.70 and 3.70 kills per set respectively against the Quakers, while the duo and graduated setter Ally Mendenhall ’09 all notched 3.80 digs in 10 sets of action. Mendenhall led the Bulldogs with 11.40 assists per frame against Penn, while libero Kelly Ozurovich tallied 4.90 digs per stanza.
Kerry Won This Election
With the Bulldogs coming off of a convincing straight-set victory over Brown, the Ancient Eight has recognized freshman setter Kerry Clavadetscher as the Ivy League Rookie of the Week. Clavadetscher, playing less than two complete sets in the sweep, dished out a match-high 21 assists. She rounded out her statline with three digs and two blocks, including one solo effort. For the season, the Seattle, Wash. native has been the second-most prolific setter in the Ivy League with an average of 9.67 assists per frame. The freshman has also contributed 2.22 digs per set and 12 blocks in 27 sets of action during the Bulldogs’ red-hot 11-1 start to 2009. Clavadetscher has landed four service aces and dropped in 10 kills from the setter position.
On Crusey Control
One of the most dominant players in the Ivy League for the past three seasons, outside hitter Alexis Crusey started her senior campaign on the right track, grabbing All-Tournament Team honors at both the Yale Invitational and the American Volleyball Classic and taking Most Valuable Player laurels at the Yale Classic. Her performance at the Yale Classic also merited Ivy League Player of the Week honors. Crusey, a three-time first team All-Ivy honoree, is currently ranked in the Ancient Eight top 10 in both kills per set (eighth, 3.12) and digs per set (10th, 3.33). The unanimous 2006 Ivy League Rookie of the Year ranks sixth in Yale history with 1,136 kills and ninth in digs with 1,047 entering this weekend.
Junior libero Kelly Ozurovich reached a milestone in Friday’s sweep of Brown, as she tallied her 1,000th career dig. Ozurovich, an All-Ivy honoree in both of her seasons at Yale, currently leads the Ivy League and ranks fourth in all of Division I with 5.85 digs per set this season. A two-time Ivy League Weekly Honor Roll selection this season, Ozurovich currently sits 11 digs shy of the all-time top 10 at Yale with 1,010 in her career.
Senior outside hitter Cat Dailey, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, has picked up where she left off in 2008 by earning Most Valuable Player nods at both the season-opening Yale Invitational and the Seton Hall Invitational. Dailey hit a sizzling .487 with 4.88 kills and 3.38 digs per set at the Yale Invitational, a performance for which she was also named Ivy League Player of the Week and garnered national attention as a CVU.com Top Performer. She also averaged 3.89 kills and 4.22 digs per set while posting double-doubles in all three matches at the Seton Hall Invitational. On the season, the Newport Beach, Calif. native has averaged 4.07 kills and an Ivy League-leading 0.39 service aces per set. Dailey is also in the Ancient Eight top 10 in hitting percentage (fourth, .307) and digs (ninth, 3.39 per set).
Playing in her home state of New Jersey, senior Laurel Johnson hit a commanding .424 (29-4-59) as the Bulldogs swept a trio of matches on Sept. 18-19 to win the Seton Hall Invitational. The Cherry Hill, N.J. native earned All-Tournament and Ivy League Player of the Week honors on the back of averaging 3.22 kills per set and amassing a tournament-best 1.22 blocks per set.
The Ministry of Defense
As potent as the Yale offense has been thus far in 2009, the Bulldogs’ defense has certainly done its part in guiding the squad to its historic 11-1 start. Yale currently leads all Ivy League teams in digs (18.89 per set), blocks (2.32 per set) and opponent hitting percentage (.106).
Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Yale’s straight-set win over Binghamton on Sept. 26 marked the Bulldogs’ third victory this season against an opponent that was selected to win its conference in the preseason coaches’ poll. The Bearcats, representing the America East Conference, join Fairfield from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and the Patriot League preseason favorite, American University, on the Bulldogs’ hit list.
Getting Back on Track
With the Bulldogs’ sweep of Hofstra on Sept. 18, Yale has now won six straight matches following a loss. Yale was last defeated in consecutive matches in September 2008 at the Penn State Classic against the eventual-National Champion Lady Lions and Saint Louis, a team that finished last season ranked at No. 21 in the nation.
High School Heroines
PrepVolleyball.com, the Internet’s first and only website dedicated to covering club and high school volleyball on a national level, selected the Yale Class of 2013 as a High Honorable Mention in its annual rankings of the nation’s top recruiting classes, as determined by a panel of over 100 collegiate coaches. The Yale class of 2013 consists of Anya Cekauskas, Kerry Clavadetscher, Julia Cortopassi and Haley Wessels. Two of the four Ivy League recruiting classes to ever receive High Honorable Mention status have been Yale squads. The Bulldogs’ Class of 2010 (current seniors Alexis Crusey, Laurel Johnson, Julia Mailander and Lydia Mailander) also earned the distinction in 2006.
On the Court and in the Classroom
The American Volleyball Coaches Association has announced that the Bulldogs are among the recipients of the AVCA Team Academic Award. The award has been presented annually since 1993 to collegiate and high school volleyball teams that have displayed excellence in the classroom during the school year by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade-point average.
Yale is the only Ivy League volleyball program to notch a win in the NCAA Championships. The 2004 Bulldogs, the first Ancient Eight squad to host an NCAA Championship match, knocked off Albany in five sets to tally the first postseason win in conference history. The 2008 Yale team then defeated Ohio in the University Park (Pa.) Subregional to become the first Ivy League team to win an NCAA Championship match away from its home court.
Including the sweeps of Fairfield, Central Connecticut State and Quinnipiac this season, the Bulldogs are 96-29 all-time against opponents from the state of Connecticut. Yale’s most frequent opponent from the Nutmeg State has been the University of Hartford, against which the Bulldogs are 21-3. The University of Connecticut has had the most success against the Bulldogs among in-state rivals with a 12-4 advantage in the series. Head Coach Erin Appleman is 11-2 versus the Constitution State, with both losses coming at the hands of the Huskies.
Beaten By the Best
The Bulldogs’ record-setting 2008 season ended in the NCAA Championship Second Round at the hands of No. 1 Penn State. The match, which was held on the Lady Lions’ home court, was the 34th consecutive sweep for the eventual national champions, who dropped only two sets all season en route to a 38-0 finish. In total, five of Yale’s six losses in 2008 came at the hands of teams that advanced to the NCAA Championship tournament.
Dig, Set, Tweet!
The Yale volleyball team has a new home in cyberspace this season courtesy of Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/YaleVolleyball. The Bulldogs’ Twitter page will feature news, information and live updates during road matches.
2009 Schedule Notes
The 2009 schedule consists of 13 home matches and 12 road matches…The Bulldogs’ non-conference slate includes four opponents to whom they have never lost (Binghamton, Quinnipiac, Seton Hall, Virginia Tech), and an opponent they have never beaten (American)…Colorado and New Jersey Institute of Technology are both first-time opponents for Yale…Under Coach Appleman (2003-present), Yale has only played five of its 2009 non-conference opponents (Binghamton, Central Connecticut State, Georgetown, Hofstra, Quinnipiac). The Bulldogs are a combined 7-0 in those matches…Hofstra (Sept. 18) is the only repeat opponent from the 2008 non-conference schedule…Yale will only play two matches at the American Volleyball Classic (American and Virginia Tech). The fourth team at the event, NJIT, will challenge the Bulldogs the following weekend at the Seton Hall Tournament… Last season, Yale and Brown played a home-and-home series to open Ivy League play. This year, the series is split as the first and last matches of the Ancient Eight schedule…The Bulldogs will play three in-state opponents (Central Connecticut State, Fairfield, Quinnipiac), the most Nutmeg State foes they have challenged since 2005. Yale did not face any Connecticut squads in 2007 or 2008.
Team Up to Fight Cancer
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the volleyball team has combined efforts with the field hockey and women’s soccer teams this October for the first-ever “Team Up to Fight Cancer” initiative. The teams sold t-shirts and collected donations at home athletic events throughout the weekend of Oct. 2 to benefit the Yale Cancer Center, with the proceeds being designated for breast cancer research.
Beach Blanket Broadcast
The Bulldogs relocated their morning practice on Friday, Aug. 28 from the friendly confines of the John J. Lee Amphitheater to scenic Hammonasset Beach in Madison, Conn. The defending Ivy League Champions hit the sand at Meig’s Point with the crew of the Fox 61 Morning News as a part of the “Zip Trip” segment, which highlights Connecticut-based attractions. Coach Appleman and members of the Yale team fielded questions from anchor Jeff Valin, while host Logan Byrnes took a few practice swings with the team.
New York State of Mind
The Bulldogs will head to the Empire State next weekend for its first Ivy League road contests of 2009. Yale travels to Cornell on Friday for a 7 p.m. contest and wraps up the weekend with a 5 p.m. tilt at Columbia. Both contests are slated to feature live stats courtesy of the home team and live Twitter updates at http://www.twitter.com/YaleVolleyball.
Yale Volleyball on Twitter