Bulldogs Outlast Loyola Marymount in Five-Set Thriller

Nov. 30, 2008

Box Score

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The Yale volleyball team closed out its regular season in dramatic fashion on Saturday night in Los Angeles, as they battled back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat the Loyola Marymount Lions in five sets by scores of 25-21, 18-25, 28-30, 25-19 and 15-10. In the match, junior Alexis Crusey became the ninth Bulldogs to total 1,000 career kills, and also eclipsed 900 career digs.

With the win, the Bulldogs improved to 20-5, solidifying the 12th 20-win season in program history. Loyola Marymount ends its 2008 campaign at 13-17 with the loss.

"It was great for us to play as well as we did against a tough opponent right before to the NCAA Tournament," said Yale Head Coach Erin Appleman. "This is the kind of performance we will need to be successful."

Crusey slammed a total of 17 kills in the match, bringing her career mark to 1,013. She also shared the team high of 21 digs with sophomore libero Kelly Ozurovich. Junior Cat Dailey, the 2008 Ivy League Player of the Year, crushed a team-best 23 kills and contributed 17 digs to the defensive effort. Senior setter Ally Mendenhall dished out 53 assists and added 14 digs to round out the three Bulldogs with double-doubles in the match. Freshman Taylor Cramm led Yale at the net with a hand in seven of the squad's 16 total blocks, including three solo stuffs.

The Lions jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first set, which was quickly erased by a pair of kills by Cramm. The Bulldogs put up the next two points as well to post a 4-2 lead, which evolved into a deadlock at 6-6. The squads stayed within one point of each other over the next 26 points, playing to a 19-19 stalemate. At that point, Yale was finally able to tally consecutive points, grabbing a 21-19 advantage and forcing Lions' Head Coach Steve Stratos to call his first timeout. The stoppage did little to derail the Bulldogs, as the Ivy League Champions posted the next two points to extend their lead to four at 23-19 and induce another Loyola Marymount timeout. The four-point cushion held up after the timeout, and the Bulldogs claimed set one by a score of 25-21.

Dailey led all players with seven kills in the frame, committing just one error on 12 swings for a .500 hitting percentage. Crusey notched four kills and Cramm tallied three for the Bulldogs. Mendenhall dished out a set-high 15 assists, and Crusey led Yale in digs with five. All-West Coast Conference first team selection Emily Day had six kills for the Lions, and Loyola Marymount libero Lauren Kirk led all players with six digs. The Bulldogs hit .382 (17-4-34) in the set compared to .281 (14-5-32) for the home team. Yale posted three blocks, led by two solo and one block assist by junior Laurel Johnson, while the Lions recorded two blocks in the frame.

The match remained tight in the second set, as neither team led by more than two points en route to a 13-13 tie. At that point, an ace by freshman Bridget Hearst and an attack error by the Lions gave Yale a 15-13 edge. After a Coach Stratos timeout, Loyola Marymount rattled off a 5-1 run to claim an 18-16 lead and force Coach Appleman to call timeout. The Lions kept rolling after the stoppage however, and Appleman soon found herself burning another timeout, now trailing 23-18. The timeouts could not get the Bulldogs back on track, and Loyola Marymount evened the match at 1-1 with a 25-18 set two win.

Dailey and Crusey each slammed five kills to lead Yale in the set. The Lions' Ariana Covington also posted five kills in the frame. Mendenhall distributed 11 assists for the Bulldogs, and four Yale players shared the team high of three digs. Yale hit .195 (14-6-41) in the stanza, while Loyola Marymount committed just two errors en route to a scorching .400 (16-2-35) hitting percentage. Yale failed to record a block in the set, while the Lions posted just one successful stuff.

After the intermission, Yale came out with the hot hand, sprinting out to a 4-0 lead. The Lions battled to within a point at 5-4, but the Bulldogs ran off three straight points to run the margin back to four points at 8-4. At that point, Loyola Marymount broke through with a 5-0 run to take the lead at 9-8 and induce a Yale timeout. A Hearst kill finally squashed the Lions run at 7-0, and an ace by the freshman brought the deficit to within one at 11-10. A block by Mendenhall and senior Kristen Wilk tied the score at 11-11, and the Bulldogs rolled to a 14-12 lead. After a Lions' timeout, the teams battled to a deadlock that held up until 18-18. Loyola Marymount broke the stalemate with two quick points to claim a 20-18 edge, and the home team ran its lead to 22-19 before Coach Appleman stopped play with her second timeout of the stanza. The Bulldogs responded to their coach with three straight points out of the stoppage, as the Lions took their second timeout with the score now knotted at 22-22. The score ran to 23-23, and Loyola Marymount won a long rally to earn a set-point at 24-23. Cramm crushed a free ball to knot the score at 24-24, but a kill by Day pushed the score to 25-24 to force another set-point. Yale fought off the second point, but could not put together consecutive points, as the Lions earned a third chance to close out the set leading 26-25. Yale once again fought back from the brink of dropping the set, and then squashed the fourth and fifth chances for the home team to grab a 2-1 advantage in the match. The Bulldogs, however, were unable to put the set away themselves, and the Lions cashed in on their sixth set-point to earn a 30-28 win.

Day led all players with 10 kills in the set, and Dailey led Yale with six finishers. Mendenhall doled out 13 assists in the frame, and Crusey led the way in digs with nine. Yale hit .170 (15-6-53) in the set compared to a .172 (20-10-58) clip for the Lions. The Bulldogs posted five blocks in the set, led by three rejections by Cramm, and Loyola Marymount notched two blocks.

Just as the three sets preceding it, the fourth frame was a dead heat from the beginning. The score ran to a 14-14 deadlock before Yale posted blocks on consecutive rallies to grab a 16-14 lead and force Coach Stratos to take the first timeout of the set. The Bulldogs' run totaled five points before the next time the Lions would alter the scoreboard to a 19-15 deficit. A second Loyola Marymount timeout ensued with the score at 23-17 in favor of the visitors from the Elm City, and the Bulldogs eventually forced a fifth set with a 25-19 set four win.

Dailey once again led the Bulldogs offensively, posting four kills in the set. Day slammed six kills to lead the Lions in the frame. Mendenhall doled out nine assists, and Ozurovich led Yale in digs with seven. The Bulldogs hit .220 (11-2-41) in the set, and Loyola Marymount posted a .080 (15-11-50) hitting percentage. Yale outblocked the Lions by a 5-0 margin.

Loyola Marymount rushed out to a 5-1 lead in the deciding set, forcing Coach Appleman to call a timeout. The Bulldogs fought back with three straight points out of the pause, running the score to 5-4 in favor of the Lions and inducing their first timeout of the frame. Yale notched the first point out of the timeout to tie the score at 5-5, and the two teams split the next four points to maintain the stalemate at 7-7. A kill by Johnson gave Yale the next point, running the score to 8-7 in favor of the Bulldogs as the teams switched sides for the conclusion of the set. A 3-1 Yale run after the switch made the score 11-8 and forced Coach Stratos to use his final timeout of the match. The teams split the next four points to push the score to 13-10, and the second illegal substitution call of the set on the Lions pushed the score to 14-10. Yale cashed in on its first match-point opportunity, earning a 15-10 victory in the set.

Dailey was the all-around leader in the deciding set with three kills and four digs. Mendenhall assisted on five of Yale's six kills in the frame. Those six kills came on 16 errorless swings for a .375 hitting percentage. Loyola Marymount hit .083 (8-6-24) in the stanza, and did not record a block, compared to three rejections by the Bulldogs' front line.

Day led all players with 29 kills and 24 digs. Covington and Becky Stehling joined her in double-figure kills with 16 and 14 respectively. Alesha Young distributed 47 assists for the Lions.

Yale, which has an automatic postseason bid as Ivy League champions, will learn its NCAA Tournament destination tomorrow night at 10 p.m. ET. The selection show will air live on ESPNU, with further information to follow as it becomes available at yalebulldogs.com. The Bulldogs last played in the postseason in 2004, when they became the first Ancient Eight team to host and to win an NCAA Tournament match.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity