Bulldogs Outlast Harvard, 3-2

Alexis Crusey (photo by Don Clark)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In recent years, the Yale and Harvard volleyball teams have made it a habit of playing at least one five-set match per season. Friday night’s showdown in Cambridge was yet another encounter for the record books, as the Bulldogs outlasted their historic rival in five frames by set scores of 20-25, 25-21, 25-17, 16-25, 19-17. Senior Alexis Crusey had a pair of match highs with 22 kills and 26 digs, and senior Cat Dailey added 21 kills and 20 digs to lead Yale to its 12th straight victory over the Crimson.

With the win, the Bulldogs improve to 18-3 overall and 8-2 in the Ivy League. The Crimson falls to 10-12 overall and 6-5 in the Ancient Eight.

“This was a tremendous team effort”, said Yale Head Coach Erin Appleman. “The Yale-Harvard rivalry is always competitive, and tonight was another extremely tough match.”

Sophomore Bridget Hearst joined Crusey and Dailey in double figures with 15 kills. Freshman Haley Wessels had six finishers, sophomore Taylor Cramm added four and the trio of Laurel Johnson, Julia Mailander and Kerry Clavadetscher each notched a kill. Clavadetscher doled out a career best 63 assists from the setter position. Junior libero Kelly Ozurovich had 20 digs for the Bulldogs, and Mailander reached double figures with 10.

Set one raced out to a 7-7 deadlock, before Yale made the first run with a 3-0 spurt to grab a 10-7 advantage. The Crimson chiseled away at the lead before knotting the score once again at 12-12. The stalemate held up until 18-18, when Harvard strung together consecutive points to take a 20-18 lead. The Crimson would extend its lead to three points, 22-19, to force a Yale timeout. Harvard took three of the next four rallies out of the stoppage to claim set one, 25-20.

Yale would play from behind at the beginning of the second set, as the Crimson jumped out to a 2-0 lead and maintained leads of one and two points, until the Bulldogs pulled even at 7-7 and kept the deadlock intact up to 11-11. At that point, a kill and ace by Dailey and a Harvard attack error accounted for a three-point Yale spurt that forced a Crimson timeout. In total, the run would go to 6-0 to give Yale a six-point cushion at 17-11. Harvard would then string together a 6-2 spurt of its own to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to two points at 19-17 and cause Coach Appleman to burn a timeout. Yale hung tough with its two-point advantage up to 23-21, and a Harvard attack error ran the score to set point at 24-21. The Bulldogs cashed in on the opportunity as Wessels and Crusey teamed up for the block to win the set and knot the match at 1-1.

Both teams came out firing in the pivotal third set to a 4-4 tally, when the Bulldogs ran off three straight points to take a 7-4 lead. The advantage grew to five points at 11-6, punctuated by a Wessels kill, to force an early Harvard timeout. The Crimson would get no closer than four points, and the lead soon grew to eight at 18-10, at which point the Cantabs took their second timeout of the frame. The Bulldogs led by as many as nine points the rest of the way en route to claiming set three, 25-17, to take a 2-1 edge in the match.

With its back against the wall, the Crimson took four of the first five rallies in set four to take a 4-1 lead, and soon led by a 9-4 mark to force a Yale timeout. The Bulldogs never recovered from the early deficit, as Harvard ran away with set four, 25-15, to force a deciding fifth frame.

Set five was a battle from the get-go, as the two squads traded points to a 7-7 tie, and a Hearst kill gave the Bulldogs an 8-7 edge as the teams switched sides. Yale finally took the first multiple-point lead for either side at 11-9. That lead was short-lived, however, as the Crimson won the next two rallies to knot the score at 11-11 and force a Yale timeout. The stalemate held to 12-12, when Clavadetscher dumped in a kill to give the Bulldogs a 13-12 lead. The Bulldogs took the next point on a Harvard attack error to push the score to match point at 14-12, but Harvard broke two straight match-point chances to knot the score yet again at 14-14. A Harvard kill gave the Cantabs a match-point opportunity, but Crusey hammered home a kill to keep the match alive at 15-15. Harvard won another point to grab another chance at winning the match, but a Crusey kill thwarted that opportunity as well. A Dailey kill gave Yale a match-point chance, but the Crimson defense held up to tie the score at 17-17. Dailey slammed another kill to give Yale its third match-point opportunity, and this time the Bulldogs cashed in as another Dailey attack landed on the Crimson side of the net to give Yale the match with a 19-17 victory.

Mikaelle Comrie led four Harvard players in double figures with 19 kills. Lily Durwood had 56 assists for the Crimson, and libero Christine Wu registered 25 digs,

The Bulldogs are back in action tomorrow as they travel to Dartmouth, who defeated Brown in five sets tonight, for a 4 p.m. contest.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity