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Bulldogs to Honor Seniors This Weekend

Kelsey Crawford.
Kelsey Crawford.

After winning five straight Ivy League titles from 2010 to 2014, the Bulldogs look to get closer to reclaiming the crown this weekend with home matches against Harvard (Friday, 7 p.m.) and Dartmouth (Saturday, 5 p.m.).

The Bulldogs defeated second-place Princeton last weekend and enter the weekend with a one-match lead over the Tigers with four matches left to play.   Yale begins the weekend winners of 56 of its last 58 Ivy League matches in New Haven.

Yale enters the weekend 8-2 overall in the Ivy League, Princeton is 7-3, and Harvard and Cornell are both 6-4.  

This weekend marks the final home matches for Yale's three seniors -- Kelsey Crawford, Kaitlyn Gibbons and Megan Rasmussen.  All three will be honored before Saturday's match against Dartmouth. 

During their time at Yale, the Bulldogs won an Ivy League title and went a dominating 40-12 record against conference teams -- the best record of any team during the last four seasons. 

In addition, they entered the weekend with 66 wins over four years, including a 34-6 overall record at home, and 24-2 mark against Ivy League teams in New Haven. 

Gibbons put up her best numbers of the year in the win over Princeton, with season highs in kills (10) and digs (13), Tristin Kott had a match-high 12 kills and Franny Arnautou had 22 assists and a season-high six service aces.  

Last Saturday, Yale dropped a five-set heartbreaker at Penn to snap a six-match win streak.  Kathyn Attar matched her season-best with 19 kills and Yale battled to force a fifth set in Philadelphia.

Over the last three weekends, Yale went 4-1 in conference road matches.  The stretch started with victories at Harvard and Dartmouth.  

First-year Chiara Spain had season-highs with six kills and six blocks with a .417 hitting percentage to lift the Bulldogs on Oct. 14 to their first win at Harvard since 2014.  The two-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week, Attar added to her first-year resume with a team-high 14 kills, while Kott added 12 kills and Kelley Wirth had nine.

Kott posted a season-high 15 kills against the Big Green in Hanover, N.H., on Oct. 13. An all-Ivy selection last season, Kott hit .565 for the match with only two errors on 23 swings.

The Bulldogs posted a season-best 62 digs in three sets. Kate Swanson, who leads the conference in digs per set, had 19 digs and all 12 Bulldogs who played had at least one dig.

In Ivy League play, the Bulldogs have done well at the net.  They lead the league as a team in blocks per set (2.32).  Izzy Simqu leads Yale and ranks third in the conference in blocks per set (1.11) in Ivy League play. 

Scouting the Opponents

Harvard (11-8, 6-4 Ivy) (Friday, 7 p.m.) -- Harvard is 42nd overall in the nation with a .252 hitting percentage for the season, while hitting .260 in league play. Sophomore Erin McCarthy leads the conference with 10.41 assists per set.  The Crimson lost five-setters at Columbia and Cornell last weekend. 

Dartmouth (7-12, 3-7 Ivy) (Saturday, 5 p.m.)-- The Big Green is second behind Yale in blocks per set in conference matches.  Carly Tower ranks second in the conference in blocks (1.14).  Tori Dozier ranks eighth in hitting percentage (.322).  Dartmouth plays at Brown on Friday night. 

Bulldog Notes

  • The Bulldogs, who have won 56 of their last 58 Ivy League home matches dating back to 2009.
  • Yale has won five Ivy League championships in the last seven years, and seven of the last 13.
  • Kathryn Attar earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week two weeks in a row -- Oct. 2 and Oct. 9.
  • Yurkia Boyd was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week on Oct. 23 after a 27-dig effort at Brown.  
  • In the win over Penn on  Sept. 29, the Bulldogs set a season-high with 64 kills, led by Kathryn Attar who set a season-high mark with 19 kills in one match.
  • Junior Kate Swanson leads the conference in Ivy League-only matches with a 5.00 digs per set average.  For the entire season, she leads the Bulldogs with a 4.13 average.  
  • Team captain Kelsey Crawford surpassed the 2,000 assist mark for her Yale career on Sept. 22 against Brown.  Crawford now has 2,169 assists and ranks ninth all time in program history.
  • Several Bulldogs in the junior class are reaching lofty career totals in several statistical categories.  Kate Swanson (985 digs), Franny Arnautou (968 assists) and Kelley Wirth (638 kills).
  • Junior Kelley Wirth entered the week ranked among the leaders in the Ivy League in kills per set (7th) and points per set (8th).
  • Izzy Simqu is having a breakout season for the Bulldogs.  Simqu ranks first on the team in total blocks (66) and third on the team in points per set (2.66) while hitting .338 over her 219 attacks. 
  • 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 2.95 points per set, and over two kills (2.55) and digs (2.48) per set. Daniel is averaging 1.50 kills per set.  Daniel has gone for six blocks in a match twice -- the highest total for a Bulldog this season.
  • Three Bulldogs are averaging over two digs per set, led by Kate Swanson who leads the team at a 4.13 clip.  Kathryn Attar is averaging 2.48 and Franny Arnautou is averaging 2.02.  
  • 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 in University Park, Pa.
  • Yale head coach Erin Appleman is in her 15th season at the helm of the Bulldogs.  She has a career record of 268-101.  In her time at Yale, the Bulldogs own the best conference record against other Ivy League volleyball programs -- 165-41. 

Report filed by Ernie Bertothy, Yale Sports Publicity