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Regular Season Wraps Up at Brown

Kerry Clavadetscher and Laurel Johnson. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Kerry Clavadetscher and Laurel Johnson. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Twenty-four matches, twenty wins and three tournament titles after it began, the Yale volleyball team will close out the 2009 regular season on Tuesday with a trip to Providence, R.I. to challenge Brown in a 7 p.m. Ivy League tilt. The Bulldogs, who enter the contest at 20-4 overall and 10-3 in Ivy League play, would record the best winning percentage in program history with a victory over the Bears.

Last Time Out
Yale swept a pair of Ivy League contests against Columbia and Cornell to close out the 2009 home schedule. Senior Cat Dailey had double-doubles in both matches while hitting at a sizzling .489 (25-3-45) clip.

Road Dogs
The Bulldogs are 6-2 in true road contests this season, and 8-3 in all matches away from the John J. Lee Amphitheater in 2009. Yale went 8-4 in road matches last season, including a 7-0 Ivy League mark on the road, and notched four wins in five matches on neutral courts.

Finish Strong
Yale is 4-2 in regular season finales and 5-1 in Ivy League finales under Coach Appleman (2003-present).

20/20 Vision
With Saturday’s win against Cornell, Yale improved to 20-4 in 2009. The Bulldogs have won 20 matches in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1995 and 1996, seasons in which Yale played over 30 regular season contests. In total, Yale has posted 13 20-win seasons in 27 years as a varsity program.

Scouting Brown
The Brown Bears enter this Tuesday’s contest with an overall record of 6-18 and a 2-11 Ivy League tally. The Bears’ offense is led by 2.57 kills per set from Brianna Williamson. Brown has utilized a trio of setters in 2009: Spencer McAndrews (5.92 assists/set), Alexandra Ilistad (5.56) and Annika Gliottone (4.81). Gliottone has shouldered the majority of the setting duties as of late with McAndrews also piling up double-digit assists in most matches. Carly Cotton leads the back row with 5.01 digs per set, and Danielle Vaughan has racked up 0.81 blocks per frame patrolling the net.

Earlier This Season
Senior Cat Dailey had a match-high 10 kills and also added nine digs as the Bulldogs swept Brown convincingly in New Haven on Oct. 2 by scores of 25-15, 25-11 and 25-11. Dailey amassed her 10 kills on 21 swings with just two errors to post a .381 hitting percentage. Seniors Alexis Crusey and Laurel Johnson each notched eight kills while hitting .467 and .316 respectively. Sophomore Bridget Hearst chipped in seven kills on 10 errorless swings to post a .700 percentage, and sophomore Taylor Cramm added three finishers. Senior Lydia Mailander and sophomore Haley Wessels both contributed a pair of kills, while senior Julia Mailander and junior Kate Parker each tallied one kill to round out the offense. Freshman setter Kerry Clavadetscher led all players with 21 assists, and Parker also saw time at setter, distributing 13 assists. As a team, Yale hit .379 (42-9-87) while keeping Brown in the negative at -.009 (22-23-110). Junior libero Kelly Ozurovich had a match-best 15 digs. Brianna Williamson, Brown’s biggest offensive threat, did not play in the contest.

The Chase for the Crown
Coming off of a 1-1 weekend, Penn has clinched the 2009 Ivy League Title outright at 12-1. The Bulldogs would lock up second place in the Ancient Eight with a win on Tuesday, while a loss would drop them into a second-place tie with Princeton, which travels to Philadelphia to wrap up its season against the Quakers on Wednesday.

On Crusey Control
One of the most dominant players in the Ivy League for the past four seasons, senior outside hitter Alexis Crusey is currently averaging 3.24 kills, good for eighth in the Ancient Eight, and 3.51 digs per frame. The three-time first team All-Ivy honoree enters her final regular season match tied for third in Yale history with 1,279 kills and ranking seventh in digs with 1,204. 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.

Cat Power
Senior outside hitter Cat Dailey, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, has continued her dominance in 2009, as she currently leads the Ancient Eight in kills (4.03 per set) and service aces (0.38 per set). Dailey is also in the Ivy League top 10 in hitting percentage (.277) and digs (3.35 per set). She was named Ivy League Player of the Week and a Top Performer 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. Dailey recently added to her list of accolades as a member of the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District First Team.

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, ranks second in the Ivy League and 14th in all of Division I with 5.35 digs per set this season. A two-time Ivy League Weekly Honor Roll selection this season, Ozurovich currently sits at sixth all-time in Yale history with 1,223 digs.

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 20-4 record. Yale currently leads all Ivy League teams in blocks (2.17 per set), opponent hitting percentage (.137) and digs (18.34 per set).

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 in that weekend, has now earned the distinction twice in 2009. For the season, Clavadetscher has been the second-most prolific setter in the Ivy League with an average of 10.77 assists per frame. The Seattle, Wash. native has also contributed 2.00 digs per set, 34 blocks, 33 kills and 10 service aces in 69 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.

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.

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 finished up 2009 with a program-best 12-1 record in home matches. 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
After sweeping Columbia on Friday night, Yale has now won nine 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 four wins following a defeat have been in straight sets.

Starting Strong
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, 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.

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.

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 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.

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report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity