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Ivy League Opener on Friday Brings Brown to New Haven

Kathryn Attar.  (Credit: Steven Musco)
Kathryn Attar. (Credit: Steven Musco)
Friday, September 22, 2017
Lee Amphitheater, 7 p.m.
New Haven, CT
Brown (5-6) at Yale (6-3)
 
Yale has won five Ivy League championships in the last seven years, and seven of the last 13, and the quest to reclaim the title begins Friday in New Haven against Brown.
 
The Bulldogs faced five "Power 5" conference teams to start the season and came away with a 6-3 record, including wins over Clemson and Wake Forest.  Facing some of the best teams in the nation, including No. 2 Penn State and then-No. 19 USC, will have them well prepared to take on the always-challenging Ivy League schedule.
 
During head coach Erin Appleman's time at Yale, the Bulldogs own the best record in the conference.  Yale is 157-39 over the last 14 years against Ivy foes, but 2017 is a new season and it starts on Friday with a match against the Bears. 
 
Brown (5-6) started the year by winning four of its first five matches, including a sweep of the Holy Cross Invitational and defeated Central Connecticut State on Tuesday.   Junior Sabrina Stillwell leads the Bears in kills per set, entered the week ranked seventh in the Ivy League. 

The student-athletes with the top performances last year against the Bears are back for Yale. 
 
The Bulldogs swept the Bears, including a 3-0 win in Providence to open the Ivy season in 2016.  Tristin Kott, then in her first season with Yale, and Megan Rasmussen both had 11 kills to lead Yale.
 
In a 3-1 win later in the season at home, Kelley Wirth led the way for the Bulldogs with 15 kills, while Kate Aitkenhead had 12 and hit .556.    
 
The Bulldogs continued their home dominance to start the season with a 3-0 weekend to win the Yale Invitational on Sept. 1-2.  Over the last four-plus seasons, the Bulldogs are 39-6 overall in New Haven and 27-1 against Ivy League teams.
 
Bulldog Notes:
  • Junior Kelley Wirth and sophomore Izzy Simqu were both named to the Penn State Classic All-Tournament Team.  It was the third all-tournament honor this season for Wirth.  
  • Through nine matches, including five against Power 5 opponents, Wirth entered the week ranked among the leaders in the Ivy League in kills per set (3rd), points (3rd), and hitting percentage (9th).
  • Simqu is having a breakout season for the Bulldogs.  Simqu ranks second on the team in points per set (2.74) and blocks (1.19) while hitting .389 over her first 72 attacks. Her five blocks against Wake Forest last Saturday was the second-highest match total for the season for Yale.
  • The Bulldogs finished their non-conference schedule with a 6-3 mark, with two of the losses coming to ranked teams  (No. 2 Penn State and then-No. 18 USC).  Over the last three years, the Bulldogs are 18-9 against teams outside the Ivy League.
  • First-year student-athletes Kathryn Attar and Destiny Daniel are off to standout starts.  Attar is averaging 2.57 points per set, and over two kills (2.14) and digs (2.48) per set. Daniel leads the team in total blocks with 26 and ranks 10th in the Ivy League with a .290 hitting percentage.  Daniel has gone for six blocks in a match twice -- the highest total for a Bulldog this season.
  • The Bulldogs are entering Ivy League play in impression fashion.  In its latest two matches -- 3-0 wins over Ohio and Wake Forest -- Yale struck for its two highest performances in total kills and hitting percentage for three-set matches.  Yale hit .371 with 43 kills against Ohio, and followed up with 45 kills and a .333 percentage against the Deacs. 
  • Three different Bulldogs are averaging over two digs per set, led by Kate Swanson who leads the team at a 3.14 clip.  Kathryn Attar is averaging 2.48, while Gray Malias is at 2.31.
  • Yale has defeated a Power 5 opponent in each of the past three seasons, including two this year.  Yale beat Clemson in New Haven on September 2, and swept Wake Forest on September 16.
  • Yale head coach Erin Appleman is in her 15th season at the helm of the Bulldogs.  She has a career record of 260-99.  In her time at Yale, the Bulldogs own the best conference record against other Ivy League volleyball programs -- 157-39.