Bulldogs Breeze Past NJIT, 3-0

Katie Cordell. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. — Senior Laurel Johnson hit a sizzling .440, registering 12 kills on 25 swings with just one error, as the Yale volleyball team coasted to a sweep of the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Saturday afternoon action at the Seton Hall Invitational. Johnson shared the team high in kills with senior Cat Dailey, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, who also added 10 digs to record her second consecutive double-double. Yale took the match by set scores of 25-23, 25-18 and 25-17.

With the win, the Bulldogs improve to 6-1 and will play Seton Hall in the invitational’s championship match at 6:30 p.m. tonight. The Highlanders fell to 9-4 in defeat.

“Laurel and Cat both had great matches,” said Yale Head Coach Erin Appleman. “And as a team, it was good to perform well against another tough defensive team like NJIT.”

Johnson, a Cherry Hill native playing in her home state, added six blocks to her 12 kills, while Dailey rounded out her statline with three stuffs. Sophomore Bridget Hearst added seven kills for Yale, and freshman Haley Wessels recorded six finishers. Junior libero Kelly Ozurovich led all players with 28 digs, including the 900th of her collegiate career, and senior Lydia Mailander notched a personal career-high with 17 digs. Sophomore Katie Cordell also set a personal-high, reaching double-figure digs for the first time in her career with 11. Freshman Kerry Clavadetscher distributed a match-best 28 assists in just two sets of action. Junior Kate Parker ran the Bulldogs’ offense for one set and dished out seven assists.

As a team, Yale hit .210 (41-11-143) and held NJIT to a .079 (35-23-151) percentage. The Bulldogs outblocked their opponents, 8-1, and served up five aces as compared to four by the Highlanders.

The Bulldogs stormed out of the gates in set one, scoring seven of the first eight points to take a 7-1 lead and force Highlanders’ coach R.J. Martins to call a timeout. In total, Yale rolled off an eight point run to gain a commanding 9-1 edge. NJIT rattled off four straight points to get back in the set, and the Highlanders would continue to surge to within a point of the Bulldogs at 12-11. The squads traded points to maintain Yale’s one-point cushion up to a 15-14, at which point Coach Appleman took her first timeout of the set. The Highlanders notched two of the first three points out of stoppage to knot the score at 16-16, and soon took their first lead of the frame at 18-17. The NJIT lead was short-lived, however, as a pair of Hearst kills put the Bulldogs back on top, 19-18. The Highlanders responded with four of the next five points to claim a 22-20 edge, but Yale answered once again with four straight points to run the score to set point at 24-22 and force a timeout. NJIT broke the first set-point opportunity, but Dailey cashed in on the second with a tip over the Highlanders’ block to claim set one, 25-23.

Dailey led all players with seven kills in the frame, and Cordell piled up a set-best 11 digs. As a team, Yale hit .214 (17-5-56), as compared to a .196 (15-4-56) mark for the Highlanders. The Bulldogs notched the only block of the set, and had two service aces to NJIT’s one.

The Highlanders jumped out to a quick 3-1 lead in the set, at which point Yale took the next four points to grab a 5-3 advantage. The squads played to a dead heat over the next stretch of action, as the Bulldogs’ two-point lead stood up to a score of 10-8, when a three-point Yale spurt extended the lead to five at 13-8. After two quick NJIT points cut the lead back to three, Johnson slammed two kills and teamed up with Dailey on a block to give the Bulldogs their largest lead of the set at 16-10. Two more Yale points extended the lead to eight points and had Martins taking a timeout with his squad trailing, 18-10. Overall, the Bulldogs ran off eight straight points to take a commanding 21-10 lead before NJIT would score another point. Despite a brief Highlanders’ run, Yale maintained its pressure for the remainder of the frame en route to a 25-18 win.

Johnson hammered home a set-best six kills, and Ozurovich picked up the set high of 14 digs. Yale swung at a .200 (13-4-45) clip, while the Highlanders hit .000 (10-10-51) in the frame. The Bulldogs won the blocking battle, 5-0, and NJIT picked up the only two aces.

Yale picked up the first four points in the third set and never looked back. The Highlanders never came within three points of the Bulldogs, and the Yale lead had grown to nine at 19-10 when Martins took his first timeout of the frame. NJIT would hang tough and cut the advantage back down as low as six, but the Bulldogs’ lead proved insurmountable as they completed the sweep with a 25-17 victory.

Yale hit .214 (11-2-42) for the set and held NJIT to a hitting percentage of .023 (10-9-44). The Bulldogs outblocked their opponents, 3-1, in the set, and each team landed on service ace.

Baaba Hughes (13 kills, 14 digs) and Renata Pandolfo (15 kills, 10 digs) each notched double-doubles for the Highlanders. Erica Schultz distributed 27 assists for NJIT, and Sabrina Baby, the nation’s leader in digs entering the weekend, collected 19 digs.

After tonight’s tournament final, the Bulldogs will return to the John J. Lee Amphitheater of their final pre-Ivy tune-up, the Yale Classic. Action begins on Sept. 25 with the Bulldogs hosting Central Connecticut State.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity