Sept. 25, 2008
NEW HAVEN, Conn.- Coming off of a 1-2 weekend at the Penn State Classic, the Bulldogs look to build up momentum heading into the Ivy League schedule with a trio of matches at the Albany Invitational. Yale enters the weekend at 4-2.
The Bulldogs are led offensively by junior Cat Dailey. Dailey is the team leader in kills with 3.39 per set and is third on the squad in digs with 2.67 per set. The junior from Newport Beach, Calif. also shares the team high in blocks with senior Kristen Wilk (14 total, 0.78 per set). Wilk, the 10th most prolific blocker in Yale history, notched her 200th career block at the Penn State Classic last weekend.
While Wilk has already reached a milestone this season, fans can expect to see another mark eclipsed this weekend. With her next kill, junior Alexis Crusey will gain sole possession of 10th place all-time at Yale. Crusey currently shares the 10th slot with Erin Walsh '96 at 757 kills. In the 2008 season, Crusey is second on the team in kills (3.18 per set), digs (2.76 per set) and assists (0.53 per set). Her six services aces tie her with senior Ally Mendenhall for the team best.
Mendenhall, the captain of the 2008 Bulldogs, has distributed the ball as the main setter to the tune of 9.67 assists per set. The senior is poised to move into fifth place on Yale's all-time assists list this weekend. She is currently in seventh place at 2,389 assists, 33 behind Sarah Christianson '92 and 43 behind Sarahliz Braugh '98.
In addition to her production as a setter, Mendenhall has also contributed 2.56 digs per set this season, as well as nine kills and seven blocks.
Junior Laurel Johnson, a middle blocker, has emerged as a dangerous offensive weapon in Head Coach Erin Appleman's arsenal. Johnson has contributed 1.56 kills per set while posting a team-best hitting percentage of .343. Johnson has also had a hand in nine blocks. This past weekend, the junior from Cherry Hill, N.J. was named to the all-tournament team at the Penn State Classic.
Kelly Ozurovich, the Bulldogs' sophomore libero, leads the squad in digs with 3.67 per set. She has also notched four service aces and seven assists while seeing action in every set for Yale thus far.
Among the freshmen on the 2008 Bulldogs' roster, no one has made a bigger immediate impact than Bridget Hearst. Hearst trails only Dailey and Crusey in kills with 2.21 per set. She has also delivered five blocks and five service aces in the early stages of her Yale career.
The Bulldogs' competition at the Albany Invitational will be the hosts from the University at Albany, Dayton, and Long Island. Albany, selected to win the America East Conference in the preseason coaches' poll, is currently 5-7 this season. The team most recently posted a 1-2 mark at the Michigan/adidas Invitational. The Great Danes defeated Western Kentucky and lost to Arizona State and No. 25 nationally-ranked Michigan. Albany is led offensively by 3.23 kills per set from Amanda Cowdrey. Setter Brooke Stanley leads the America East with 9.84 assists per set. The all-time series between Albany and Yale is knotted at 1-1, with Albany winning the most recent encounter in five sets during the 2006 season. The Bulldogs and Great Danes will meet on Friday night at 7 p.m.
Yale will get an early start on Saturday as the Bulldogs challenge Dayton at noon. The Flyers, who return 12 letterwinners from a team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2007, were picked to finish second in the Atlantc-10 West Division in the preseason poll. Currently 8-4, the Flyers won two of three matches as hosts of the Dayton Flyer Classic last weekend. Dayton was felled by No. 20 Purdue on Friday night and knocked off Miami (Ohio) and Louisville on Saturday. Lindsay Fletemier leads the Flyers with 3.08 kills per set, and Bethany Akerhielm is second in the Atlantic 10 with a .325 hitting percentage while contributing 2.55 kills per set. Erin Schroeder leads the Flyers in assists with 10.38 per set, and Nicole Bateman fronts a balanced defense with 3.76 digs per set. This will be the first match-up between Dayton and the Bulldogs.
Yale will wrap up the Albany Invitational at 5 p.m. on Saturday with a match against Long Island University. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series 4-1, though the Blackbirds won last season's encounter by a score of 3-1. Long Island, tabbed for a second place finish in the Northeast Conference preseason poll, enter the weekend at 5-6. Most recently, the Blackbirds defeated Houston Baptist and fell to Howard and St. John's at the Courtyard LaGuardia Volleyball Classic. Junior Svetlana Simic currently leads the team and the NEC as a whole with 4.35 kills per set. Chelsey Stanton has distributed 8.85 assists per set and Jasmine Perez has posted a team-best 4.10 digs per set thus far in the 2008 season.
After this weekend, the Bulldogs will officially begin their quest to an Ivy League championship. The road through the Ancient Eight starts in Providence, R.I., where the team will meet Brown University on Friday, Oct. 3. The teams will clash again on Saturday, Oct. 4 as they wrap up the weekend home-and-home series at the John J. Lee Amphitheater in New Haven.
report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity