November 6, 2008

Yale Enters Final Homestand As Ivy Frontrunner

Nov. 6, 2008

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - With four matches remaining in the Ivy League schedule, the Yale volleyball team boasts the best record in the Ancient Eight at 9-1. The Bulldogs, 15-4 overall, enter their final homestand hoping to distance themselves from the pack against Columbia and Cornell. Princeton, which remains tied in the loss column with Yale at 8-1 in league matches, will travel to Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend. The Bulldogs will meet the Tigers in their final match of the Ivy League season on Nov. 15 in Princeton, N.J.

The Bulldogs' offense rank second in the Ivy League in hitting percentage, kills and assists, trailing only Princeton in all three categories. The team is led offensively by junior Alexis Crusey, a former Ivy League Rookie of the Year and two-time All-Ivy selection. Crusey is second in the Ivy League in kills with 3.79 per set and ranks in the top 10 in hitting percentage at .266- slotting in at eighth despite attempting 200 or more attacks than every other player in the top 10. Crusey also ranks ninth in the Ivy League in service aces with 0.27 per set and slots in at second on the Bulldogs with 3.37 digs per set.

Junior Cat Dailey, in first season donning a Yale uniform, has been one of the Bulldogs' primary weapons in all facets of the game. Dailey is currently fourth in the Ivy League in kills with 3.79 per set, including an even 4.00 kills per set in league contests. The Newport Beach, Calif. native leads the Bulldogs with 0.33 service aces per set, the fourth-highest average in the Ivy, and shares the lead in solo blocks with Crusey at 12 apiece. She ranks second on the team in total blocks with 33 and third in digs with 3.09 per set.

The Yale offense is run by senior setter Ally Mendenhall. The captain of the 2008 Bulldogs has distributed 10.52 assists per set, ranking her third in the Ivy League. She has also contributed 53 kills on .318 hitting, as well as 15 total service aces, 18 total blocks and 2.70 digs per set.

Freshman Bridget Hearst has emerged recently as the Bulldogs' third-leading attacker. Hearst was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week after hitting a scorching .472 last weekend, totaling 20 kills and committed only three hitting errors on 36 swings. At Harvard on Friday night, Hearst had matched her season best of 10 kills on an errorless 16 swings for a .625 hitting percentage. The freshman southpaw also recorded seven digs and three blocks. Hearst hit .350 on Saturday at Dartmouth, registering 10 kills once again, this time on 20 swings with three errors. On the season, Hearst is averaging 1.88 kills per set and has chipped in with 12 service aces and 29 blocks.

As a defensive team, the Bulldogs lead the Ivy League in digs and rate second in blocks, edged at the net by Cornell by a 2.10 to 2.02 blocks per set margin. Sophomore libero Kelly Ozurovich leads Yale in digs with 4.25 per set, the fourth-highest total in the Ivy. Freshman Taylor Cramm leads the blocking effort for the Bulldogs with 1.02 per set, ranking her second in the Ivy League. Cramm has notched 51 blocks (seven solo) in 50 sets of work this season.

The Columbia Lions visit the John J. Lee Amphitheater on Friday night at 7 p.m. sporting a record of 6-14 overall and 0-10 in Ivy League play. The Bulldogs dispatched the Lions in straight sets on Oct. 25 in New York City by scores of 25-8, 25-20 and 25-11. Crusey and Dailey each posted 11 kills to lead all players in that match. The Bulldogs' two outside hitters also tallied 11 and 10 digs respectively. Crusey hit .360, while Dailey did not commit an error en route to hitting .344. Mendenhall distributed a match-high 30 assists and Ozurovich led Yale with 16 digs. Amalia Viti led Columbia win nine finishers, but also committed nine errors on 41 swings. Alex Marchyshyn had 16 assists to lead the Lions, and Ellie Thomas recorded a match-best 18 digs.

Viti, Columbia's top attacker, leads the Ivy League with 4.08 kills per set. The second most prolific attacker has been Megan Dillinger, who is contributing 1.33 kills per set for Columbia. Marchyshyn runs the Lions' offense to the tune of 6.65 assists per set, though Marisa Cornejo has stepped in as setter on occasion, doling out 5.55 assists per frame. Thomas ranks seventh in the Ivy League with a team-best 3.82 digs per set and slots sixth in service aces with 0.30 per set. Monique Roberts and Sarah Thompson lead the Lions at the net with 56 and 50 total blocks respectively.

The Bulldogs lead the all-time series with Columbia by a wide margin at 32-3. Head Coach Erin Appleman is a perfect 11-0 against the Lions, and Yale has won the last 13 head-to-head encounters dating back to 2001.

After Friday night's tilt with Columbia, Big Red makes the trek to the Elm City for Senior Day. Cornell, who will visit Brown before coming to New Haven on Saturday, enters the weekend at 7-14 overall and 6-4 in league matches. Yale swept at Cornell earlier this season, snapping a five-match losing streak for the Bulldogs in Ithaca. Junior Laurel Johnson led the balanced Yale offense with nine kills in the Oct. 24 showdown, while Crusey and Dailey each notched eight finishers. Cramm had six kills, and Hearst and Mendenhall each recorded five. Mendenhall also distributed a match-best 32 assists. Ozurovich and Dailey each posted double-figure digs with 21 and 13 respectively. Kelly Hansen led Big Red with five kills. Hilary Holland notched 22 assists for Cornell, and Megan Mushovic led all players with 23 digs.

Cornell boasts a quartet of attacks averaging between 2.07 and 2.76 kills per set. Meagan Tatum and Emily Borman lead the multi-pronged attack. Borman is the fourth most-efficient hitter in the Ivy League with a .371 attack percentage. Holland ranks sixth in the league with 9.54 assists per set, and Mushovic, a 2007 first team All-Ivy libero, leads the Ivy in digs this season with 5.80 per set. Hansen leads Big Red and the Ivy League as a whole at the net with 1.26 blocks per frame. Yale owns a slim 23-19 lead in the all-time series with Cornell. Coach Appleman has split her 12 matches with Big Red, 6-6. The Bulldogs have won three straight over Cornell in New Haven.

Looking ahead, Yale wrap-up its Ivy League schedule on the road next weekend, with showdowns at Penn (Friday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m.) and Princeton (Saturday, Nov. 15, 4 p.m.). The weekend boasts matches between the teams that currently hold the top three spots in the Ivy League standings.

GameTracker live stats and streaming video for Yale vs. Columbia (Friday, 7 p.m.)
GameTracker live stats and streaming video for Yale vs. Cornell (Saturday, 7 p.m.)

Yale Volleyball
Columbia Volleyball
Cornell Volleyball

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity

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