Yale Drops Dramatic Five-Setter to Bowling Green in NCAA First Round

Kendall Polan, left, and Haley Wessels go up for a block on Friday night in a NCAA First Round match on Nov. 30, 2012 in University Park, Pa.
Kendall Polan, left, and Haley Wessels go up for a block on Friday night in a NCAA First Round match on Nov. 30, 2012 in University Park, Pa.

Down 2-1 in Sets, Ivy League Champ Yale Forced Fifth Game

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Bulldogs dropped a heart-stopping fifth set to Bowling Green in their NCAA First Round match at Rec Hall on Friday evening.

The scores of the match were 16-25, 25-15, 25-21, 13-25 and 15-11.

In its fourth-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, Yale came back from a 2-1 set deficit to force a deciding fifth. The loss snapped Yale's 15-match win streak, and the Bulldogs ended the season 18-6 overall and 14-0 in Ivy Play.

Mollie Rogers and Kelly Johnson led a balanced Yale attack with a team-high 12 kills each, while senior team captain Haley Wessels ended her Bulldog career with 11 kills, 6 block assists and five digs.

The fifth set was pulsating volleyball and featured eight ties and five lead changes. 

Yale recovered from a 7-5 deficit to score the next four points.  After three straight Bowling Green errors, Kendall Polan rifled an ace along the left side to give Yale a two-point edge.

After a Yale error, Lindsey Butterfield gave the Falcons back the lead with two straight kills.  McHaney Carter and Rogers teamed up for block assists on the next point to tie the set at 10. 

Carter finished with nine kills, hit. 391 and five block assists.  Rogers, a first-team All-Ivy selection, added 17 digs and four block assists.

Leah Shaw's kill put Bowling Green back in front, and the Falcons never trailed the rest of the way.  

Bowling Green improved to 9-0 in five-set matches this season, while Yale was playing in its first five-setter of the year. 

Yale started strong in an opening set win. The Bulldogs jumped out to an 18-10 lead in the first after Maddie Rudnick passed to Polan, who set up a Rogers for one of her five kills in the set.  

Bowling Green turned the match around in the second.  Down 7-1 in the set, Carter and Erica Reetz supplied consecutive kills.  The Falcons scored the next three point, and would eventually extend the lead to nine at 20-11.

The Falcons led for almost all of the third set.  Johnson's kill cut the Yale deficit to 17-16, however the Bulldogs would not get any closer.

Yale turned the match around in the fourth.  

Rogers connected off a Polan set, then Carter slammed back-to-back kills, followed by a Bowling Green error to take an 8-4 lead.  Yale's inspired play continued.

After Bowling Green scored off a block to make it 11-10 Yale, Johnson added a kill.

From there, Wessels led perhaps Yale's biggest run of the season.  Wessels and Reetz combined for a block assist.  

On the next point, Polan came up with two huge digs to keep a point alive, and eventually force a Bowling Green error.  Reetz and Wessels combined again for block assists to give Yale a 15-10 lead. 

Wessels added three more kills and two more block assists in Yale's last 10 points to force a fifth set. 

Yale ended the season as the second team in Ivy League history to finish a conference season 14-0 and featured five All-Ivy selections.

Bowling Green will face the winner of Binghamton and Penn State tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. in a NCAA Second Round match.

Report filed by Ernie Bertothy, Yale Sports Publicity