Empire State Awaits Bulldogs for Ivy League Road Weekend

Taylor Cramm. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Taylor Cramm. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. – After suffering its first defeat of the 2009 Ivy League season, the Yale volleyball team looks to return to its winning ways in a pivotal Ancient Eight road weekend at Cornell and Columbia. The 12-2 Bulldogs, currently 2-1 in Ivy League competition, will challenge Big Red in Ithaca on Friday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. and then head to the Big Apple for a 5 p.m. showdown at Columbia on Saturday. Streaming video is slated to be available for both matches courtesy of the home teams. Live updates will also be provided via Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/YaleVolleyball.

Last Time Out
The Bulldogs split an Ivy League home weekend against Princeton and Penn. Yale swept the Tigers on Friday evening behind 14 kills from senior Cat Dailey and dropped a five-set thriller to the Quakers on Saturday afternoon. Dailey led all players with a career-high 26 kills and added 16 digs. The loss to Penn snapped the Bulldogs’ 10-match Ivy League winning streak, 10-match home winning streak, and eight-match overall winning streak.

Road Dogs
The Bulldogs are 2-0 in true road contests this season, and 4-1 in all matches away from the John J. Lee Amphitheater in 2009. Yale is in the midst of an eight-match winning streak in Ivy League road contests, having not lost on an Ancient Eight foe’s home court since Nov. 10, 2007 at Princeton.

Getting Back on Track
Including the Bulldogs’ sweep of Hofstra on Sept. 18, Yale has won six straight matches following a loss. The Bulldogs were last defeated in consecutive matches in September of 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.

Scouting Big Red (Oct. 16 – 7 p.m.)
The Cornell Big Red enters the weekend at 5-10 overall. Most recently, Cornell lost to Harvard and knocked off Dartmouth in Ithaca to even its Ivy League record at 2-2. The Big Red offense is headed by 2.85 kills per game from Deveney Pula. As a team, Cornell is last in the Ivy League in kills (10.96 per set) and assists (10.09 per set) and ranks seventh in hitting percentage (.138). Setter Jordan Reeder ranks sixth in the Ancient Eight with 7.59 assists per frame, and libero Megan Mushovic lands at sixth with 4.26 digs per set. Mushovic is also eighth in the league in service aces with 0.30 per set.

Bulldogs vs. Big Red
Yale leads the all-time series with Big Red, 24-19. The Bulldogs are 7-6 against Cornell under Head Coach Erin Appleman and have won the last two meetings. Cornell has won 10 of 18 meetings in Ithaca and holds the longest all-time winning streak in the series at six matches (1991–93). The Bulldogs’ longest streak against Big Red is a four-match spurt, which has occurred twice (1977-86, 1996-99).

In the Year 2008
Yale swept Cornell in both meetings last season, as Big Red never earned more than 19 points in a frame against the Bulldogs. Cat Dailey led Yale with 4.67 kills per set and a .417 hitting percentage in six sets against Cornell, while Alexis Crusey averaged 3.83 kills and 3.17 digs per stanza. As a team, Yale hit .349 to Cornell’s .151 hitting percentage and outblocked Big Red, 13-4. In total, nine of the 11 Bulldogs who saw action against Big Red in 2008 remain on the 2009 Yale roster.

Scouting the Lions (Oct. 17 – 5 p.m.)
Currently sitting at 10-7 overall and 1-3 in the Ivy League, the Columbia Lions are vastly improved from a team that went winless in the Ancient Eight one season ago. The Lions are led by freshman Megan Gaughn, who ranks second in the league with 4.11 kills per set and ninth in digs at 3.32 per frame. The third-most efficient hitting team in the Ancient Eight with a .199 hitting percentage, the Columbia offense is run through freshman setter Kelsey Musselman (6.58 assists per set). Monique Roberts is the top blocker in the Ivy League with 1.05 per set, and Ellie Thomas rates fifth in the league in digs with 4.26 per set out of the libero spot.

Bulldogs vs. Lions
Yale leads the all-time series by a wide 33-3 margin and has won 12 of 14 matches on the Lions’ home court. Since losing a pair of encounters the 2001 season, Columbia’s only string of consecutive victories in the series, the Bulldogs have won 14 straight meetings. Coach Appleman is a perfect 12-0 in her career against the Lions.

In the Year 2008
The Bulldogs put together a pair of straight-set wins against the Lions in 2008, as Columbia was held to 15 points or fewer in five of the six frames of action. Eight Bulldogs averaged 1.00 kill per set or higher against the Lions, led by 3.60 per frame by Alexis Crusey. Yale swung at a .369 clip, as compared to a .050 rate by Columbia. The Bulldogs also landed 17 aces to the Lions’ two and won the blocking battle, 13-4.

On Crusey Control
One of the most dominant players in the Ivy League for the past three seasons, senior outside hitter Alexis Crusey is currently averaging 2.98 kills pet set, which ranks her 10th in the Ancient Eight, and 3.17 digs per frame. The three-time first team All-Ivy honoree ranks sixth in Yale history with 1,155 kills and ninth in digs with 1,067 entering this weekend. Prior to the Ivy League season, Crusey grabbed All-Tournament Team honors at both the Yale Invitational and the American Volleyball Classic and took home Most Valuable Player laurels at the Yale Classic. Her performance at the Yale Classic also merited Ivy League Player of the Week honors.

The Wizard
Junior libero Kelly Ozurovich reached a milestone in the Oct. 2 sweep of Brown, as she tallied her 1,000th career dig. Ozurovich, an All-Ivy honoree in both of her previous seasons at Yale, is currently second the Ivy League and ranks ninth in all of Division I with 5.55 digs per set this season. A two-time Ivy League Weekly Honor Roll selection this season, Ozurovich currently sits at 10th all-time in Yale history with 1,044 digs.

Cat Power

Senior outside hitter Cat Dailey, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, has picked up where she left off in 2008, as she currently leads the Ancient Eight in kills with 4.28 per set. Dailey is also in the Ivy League top 10 in hitting percentage (sixth, .298) and service aces (second, 0.39 per set). She was named Ivy League Player of the Week in the first week of action this season after hitting at a sizzling .487 clip, notching 39 kills on 78 attempts with just one error en route to being named the Most Valuable Player of the Yale Invitational. Dailey, who averaged 4.88 kills per set in that weekend, rounded out her statline with a 3.38 digs per set average, four service aces, three blocks and three assists.

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 12-2 record. Yale currently leads all Ivy League teams in digs (18.36 per set), blocks (2.33 per set) and opponent hitting percentage (.122).

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.

This Is Our House
Yale is 8-1 in home matches this season. The Bulldogs went 9-1 in the Elm City last season, including a 6-1 home record against Ivy League competition. Only Penn has defeated Yale at the John J. Lee Amphitheater in each of the last two seasons.

Starting Strong
Yale’s 12-1 start to the 2009 campaign was the best in program history. The 2005 Bulldogs, who previously held the best start in Yale history, started 11-1 en route to a 20-4 (11-3 Ivy) finish. Yale’s 10-1 tally in non-conference contests this season 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.

Kerry Won This Election
The Ancient Eight recognized freshman setter Kerry Clavadetscher as the Ivy League Rookie of the Week for her performance against Brown on Oct. 2. 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 10.03 assists per frame. The freshman has also contributed 2.20 digs per set and 15 blocks in 35 sets of action during the Bulldogs’ 12-2 start to 2009. Clavadetscher has landed five service aces and dropped in 13 kills from the setter position.

Homecoming Queen
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.

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.

Trend Setters
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.

State Troopers
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 net 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.

Home Sweet Home
Yale returns home to the John J. Lee Amphitheater next weekend for another pair of Ivy League contests. The Bulldogs will host Dartmouth on Friday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. before perennial rival Harvard comes to the Elm City for a 4 p.m. tilt on Saturday, Oct. 24. Both matches will feature live stats and will be streamed live via Yale All-Access.

Yale Volleyball
Cornell Volleyball
Columbia Volleyball

Media Links
Cornell Live Stats
Cornell Streaming Video
Columbia Streaming Video
Live Twitter Updates (both matches)

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity