Bulldogs Overcome Harvard in Five Set Thriller

Bulldogs Overcome Harvard in Five Set Thriller

Oct. 11, 2008

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Coming off of a sweep of Dartmouth last night, the Yale volleyball team ran into its toughest test thus far in the Ivy League season in the form of a familiar foe from Cambridge, Mass. Harvard pushed the Bulldogs to the brink of defeat but, in front of a host of alumnae at the John J. Lee Amphitheater in New Haven, Yale came through with a dramatic five set victory over the Crimson. The win was the sixth straight overall for the Bulldogs and the eighth in a row against Harvard.

Yale is now 10-3 overall and 4-0 in Ivy League play. The Crimson fell to 7-9 overall and 2-2 in league matches.

"Harvard played a great match," said Yale Head Coach Erin Appleman, "but our team showed a lot of heart in earning the win."

Junior Cat Dailey led the way for the Bulldogs with a team-best 23 kills. She added 15 digs in the match to post her second straight double-double. Junior Alexis Crusey and senior captain Ally Mendenhall each notched their second double-double of the weekend. Crusey, who recorded her fifth straight double-double overall, had 13 kills and 11 digs. Mendenhall notched a pair of team highs with 47 assists and 17 digs. Junior Julia Mailander and sophomore Kelly Ozurovich each tallied double-figure digs with 15 and 12 respectively.

In the first set, the Bulldogs opened up a quick 10-3 lead and never looked back. The run was highlighted by kills from six different Yale players. The Crimson hung tough, but never closed the gap to less than five points, as the home team took the first set by a score of 25-19. Crusey, Dailey and freshman Taylor Cramm each notched four kills to lead Yale in the opening set.

Harvard took early command in the second set, as they claimed a dozen of the first 20 points to build a 12-8 lead and force Coach Appleman to use her first timeout. At that point Yale mounted an 8-3 run, led by three kills from Dailey, to take the lead at 16-15. Harvard battled back to claim a 19-17 advantage, but the Bulldogs then ran off the final eight points of the set to earn a 25-19 win and post a 2-0 lead in the match. Dailey had five kills on eight attempts without an error (.625 hitting percentage) to lead the Bulldogs in the frame.

Harvard caught fire in the third set, and the Bulldogs seemed to be one step behind the Crimson throughout. Yale did build an early 9-6 advantage, but the Cantabs immediately with a 13-1 run to jump out to a 13 point lead- a lead they would not relinquish- at 19-10. The Crimson finished off Yale by a score of 25-13. After hitting .292 through the first two sets of the match, the Bulldogs' offense could only muster a hitting percentage of .027 in the third frame. Alternately, Harvard had hit .135 in the first two sets and erupted for a .500 hitting percentage in the third.

The fourth set began as a back-and-forth affair, with the teams splitting the first 24 points to a 12-12 deadlock. It was at that point that a kill by Anne Carroll Ingersoll gave the Crimson the lead. The action remained competitive throughout, but Harvard held their advantage and took the set by a score of 25-20. The Bulldogs once again hit below .100 at .077, while the Cantabs hit at a clip of .200.

Like much of the rest of the match, the fifth set started in a stalemate at 5-5. Harvard then went on a quick 5-1 run to take a 6-10 lead. After Coach Appleman called a timeout, Dailey took the match over, registering four kills in the midst of a 7-0 Yale run that gave them a 13-10 lead. The Bulldogs wrapped up the set and the match with a 15-11 victory.

Coach Appleman gave due credit to the alumnae. "After we switched sides [in the middle of the fifth set] and had our alumnae beside us, that gave us the boost we needed to pull out the victory."

The Bulldogs will host another pair of Ivy League matches next weekend as Princeton, the 2007 Ivy League Champions, and Penn visit the Elm City on Oct. 17 and 18. The Tigers will be in the John J. Lee Amphitheater at 7 p.m. on Friday, and the Quakers will be the visitors at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity