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NEW HAVEN, Conn. – With the 2009 Ivy League season now halfway gone, the Yale volleyball team (16-2, 6-1 Ivy) enters the weekend in second place in the Ancient Eight, trailing unbeaten Penn (16-4, 7-0 Ivy) by one match. That single-match deficit won’t last long, however, as the Bulldogs begin this weekend’s action with a trip to the Palestra in Philadelphia for a showdown with the league-leading Quakers. Yale will then find itself either in a first-place tie or in the disadvantageous position of chasing Penn by two matches with six remaining on the Ivy League slate as the squad wraps up the weekend at Princeton (6-12, 4-3 Ivy) against the always dangerous Tigers.
Last Time Out
The Bulldogs extended their current winning streak to four matches with home sweeps over Ivy League opponents Dartmouth and Harvard this past weekend. Senior Alexis Crusey (3.00 kills/set, 3.50 digs/set) and freshman Kerry Clavadetscher (11.67 assists/set) both earned Ivy League Weekly Honor Roll nods for their performances in the pair of straight-set victories.
The Bulldogs are 4-0 in true road contests this season, and 6-1 in all matches away from the John J. Lee Amphitheater in 2009. Yale is in the midst of a 10-match winning streak in Ivy League road matches, having not lost on an Ancient Eight foe’s home court since Nov. 10, 2007 at Princeton.
Try, Try Again
Penn has not taken both ends of the annual home-and-home series with Yale since the 2003 season. The Bulldogs have not been defeated twice in one season by an Ivy League opponent since Princeton went undefeated in league play in 2007.
Scouting Penn (Oct. 30 – 7 p.m.)
The Ivy League-leading Penn Quakers are in the midst of a four-match home stand. Penn is led by a slew of offensive weapons, including 3.73 kills per set from senior Elizabeth Semmens. Freshman Lauren Martin (3.45 kills per set) and senior Julia Swanson (3.00 kills per set) both join Semmens in the league top 10 in kills. Megan Tryon runs the offense with an Ivy League-best 11.40 assists per set, and 2008 All-Ivy Second Team libero Madison Wojciechowski is second in the Ancient Eight with 5.25 digs per frame in her junior season.
Earlier This Season
Despite Yale breaking two Penn match-point opportunities in a fourth-set rally that forced the deciding fifth set, it was the Quakers who came out on top by set scores of 25-23, 19-25, 25-21, 25-27 and 15-13. The five-set match featured 25 ties and 11 lead changes. Senior Cat Dailey led all players with 26 kills in the contest. She also tallied 16 digs to record her sixth double-double of the season. Dailey was one of five Bulldogs with double-figure digs, led by junior libero Kelly Ozurovich with 17. Senior Alexis Crusey had 13 digs in the match, while sophomore Laurel Casey and freshman Kerry Clavadetscher each notched 11 digs. Penn was led by 21 kills from Lauren Martin. Julia Swanson (17 kills, 17 digs) and Elizabeth Semmens (11 kills, 12 digs) both posted double-doubles for the Quakers. Megan Tryon doled out a match-high 60 assists, and libero Madison Wojciechowski led all players with 31 digs.
Scouting Princeton (Oct. 31 – 4 p.m.)
While the Bulldogs will enter the weekend focused on their collision course with the unbeaten Quakers, Yale certainly cannot afford to overlook a perennial Ivy League powerhouse in Princeton. Though the Tigers are not in their customary position among the Ivy League elite this season, the squad still boasts six experienced players who saw action during the Tigers’ 14-0 Ivy League season in 2007. Leading the way is senior Sheena Donohue, a two-time All Ivy honoree, with a pair of team highs: 3.66 kills and 4.18 digs per set. Freshman Lydia Rudnick, the reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Week, has made an impact in her first season with the Tigers, contributing 3.33 kills per frame. Another freshman, Molly Bagshaw, has distributed 9.57 assists per frame from the setter position.
Earlier This Season
Senior Cat Dailey slammed a match-best 14 kills and freshman Kerry Clavadetscher dished out 42 assists to lead the Bulldogs to a sweep of Princeton on Oct. 9. The Bulldogs claimed the match by scores of 25-21, 25-22 and 25-21. Senior Alexis Crusey and sophomore Bridget Hearst joined Dailey with double-figure kills, posting 10 and 11 finishers, respectively. Sheena Donohue had a team-high 12 kills for Princeton. C.C. Lobben led the Tigers with 12 digs, and Molly Bagshaw distributed 26 assists.
The Chase for the Crown
In the race for the 2009 Ivy League Title, Penn currently leads the pack at 7-0. A Yale win against the Quakers on Friday night ensures that both teams control their own destiny the rest of the way to split the Ancient Eight Crown, while a Penn victory would put the Quakers in the driver’s seat with a two-match lead in the standings. Princeton is currently hanging tough at 4-3, while the remainder of the league boasts records of .500 or lower. Brown will play at Princeton on Friday and Penn on Saturday, and Cornell and Columbia will trek to Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend.
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 2.94 kills and 3.39 digs per frame, ranking at ninth in the Ancient Eight in both categories. The three-time first team All-Ivy honoree ranks fifth in Yale history with 1,192 kills and ninth in digs with 1,120 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.
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, currently leads the Ivy League and ranks 11th in all of Division I with 5.47 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 1,112 digs.
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 4.18 per set, including a 4.21 kills per set average against Ivy League competition. Dailey is also in the Ivy League top 10 in hitting percentage (.291) and service aces (0.33 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 (4.88 kills per set) en route to being named the Most Valuable Player of the Yale Invitational.
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 16-2 record. Yale currently leads all Ivy League teams in blocks (2.29 per set) and opponent hitting percentage (.130), while rating second in digs with 18.24 per frame.
An Instant Impact
After playing an integral part in the Bulldogs’ 2-0 road weekend at Cornell and Columbia on Oct. 16 and 17, Kerry Clavadetscher was recognized by the Ivy League as its Rookie of the Week. The freshman setter, who averaged 12.86 assists per set in seven frames of action last weekend, has now earned the distinction in two of the past three weeks. For the season, Clavadetscher has been the second-most prolific setter in the Ivy League with an average of 10.65 assists per frame. The Seattle, Wash. native has also contributed 2.19 digs per set, 23 blocks, 22 kills and six aces in 48 sets of action.
The Hits Kept on Coming
Sophomore Bridget Hearst turned in a remarkable performance in Yale’s four-set win at Columbia on Oct. 17. Hearst tallied a match-best 27 kills on 35 swings with just four errors for a stellar .657 hitting percentage. Her 27 kills marked the most by a Yale player since Shannon Farrell ’07 totaled 31 kills in five sets against Cornell in the 2004 Ivy League Playoff. Hearst was recognized for her performance as a member of the Ivy League Weekly Honor Roll.
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.
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 10-1 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.
Getting Back on Track
Including the sweep at Cornell on Oct. 16, Yale has won seven 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. Yale’s last three wins following a defeat have been 3-0 sweeps.
Yale’s 12-1 start to the 2009 campaign was the best in program history. The 2005 Bulldogs, who previously owned 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 most 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 familiar 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.
On the Road Again
The Bulldogs will be back on the road next weekend, as they trek to Harvard and Dartmouth for a pair of Ivy League contests. The Crimson host Yale on Friday, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m., and the Bulldogs will challenge Big Green on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 4 p.m. Both contests are slated to feature live stats (courtesy of the home teams) and will have live Twitter updates throughout at http://www.twitter.com/YaleVolleyball.
Penn Live Stats
Penn Streaming Video
Yale Volleyball on Twitter
report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity