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Bulldogs Meet Ohio in NCAA Championship First Round

Bulldogs Meet Ohio in NCAA Championship First Round

Dec. 3, 2008

Complete Release in PDF Format

For just the second time in program history, the Yale volleyball team heads to the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs will face Ohio University on Friday at 3:30 p.m. at Recreation Hall on the campus of Penn State University.

Yale has appeared in the NCAA Tournament only once before. The 2004 Bulldogs, co-champions of the Ivy League and winners of a four-team playoff for the automatic postseason bid, hosted a subregional featuring Albany, Long Island and Minnesota. Yale defeated Albany in five sets, the first NCAA Tournament win ever by an Ivy League team, and lost to the Golden Gophers in the second round.

The Bulldogs played two matches in California last week to wrap-up the 2008 regular season. Yale was swept by then-No. 16 San Diego on Tuesday and knocked off Loyola Marymount in five sets on Saturday.

The Mid-American Conference Tournament Champion Ohio University Bobcats enter the NCAA Tournament at 24-7. Ohio has won 10 straight matches, and an impressive 15 of their last 16 contests. Junior outside hitter Ellen Herman, the MAC Player of the Year and tournament MVP, leads the Bobcats with 4.49 kills per set and ranks second on the team with 2.58 digs per set. Meghan Simons has been Ohio's most efficient hitter, posting a .323 hitting percentage en route to an average of 2.22 kills per set. Setter Michelle Jantsch has distributed 10.13 assists per set and served up a team-best 44 aces. Libero Sarah Petrulis leads the defensive effort with 3.40 digs per set, and Simons and Jane Sytsma head the front line with 109 and 107 total blocks respectively. Simons joined Herman as first team All-MAC honorees, while Jantsch and Sytsma both landed on the second team.

Yale and Ohio have met just once before, in a neutral site tilt as a part of the 2006 Holiday Inn Express Invitational hosted by Stony Brook University. In the final match of the tournament, then-No. 17 nationally-ranked Ohio knocked off the Bulldogs in straight sets. Alexis Crusey, who was playing in just her third collegiate match, led Yale with 11 kills. Ellen Herman, currently a senior for Ohio, led all players with 16 kills and a sizzling .682 hitting percentage. In total, six current Bulldogs saw playing time in that match, and five Bobcats who played in that match appear on the 2008 roster.

Currently in the midst of her sixth season, Head Coach Erin Appleman has already staked her claim as arguably the most successful coach in Yale volleyball history. Appleman ranks second all-time in wins with 106 and, with just 43 losses, her .711 winning percentage is the highest in program history. Including this season, Appleman is the only coach in Yale history to win two Ivy League titles. In 2004, she led the Bulldogs to the first ever win in an NCAA Tournament match by an Ivy League team. Appleman has coached an Ivy League Player of the Year (Cat Dailey, 2008) and Rookie of the Year (Alexis Crusey, 2006), and has coached 11 players to first team All-Ivy honors.

Junior outside hitter Cat Dailey made a big splash in her first season donning a Yale uniform. The Newport Beach, Calif. native leads the Bulldogs with 3.79 kills per set and ranks third on the squad with 3.16 digs per frame. Dailey also leads Yale with 23 service aces and is rates second with 46 total blocks. After posting a league-best 4.24 kills per set in Ivy League play, Dailey was a first team All-Ivy selection as well as the unanimous choice for Ivy League Player of the Year. She previously played collegiate volleyball at 2007 national semifinalist California-Berkeley.

Junior outside hitter Alexis Crusey and senior setter Ally Mendenhall joined Cat Dailey as first team All-Ivy honorees. Crusey, a unanimous choice to the first team, has notched 3.69 kills and 3.55 digs per set in the 2008 season. With her senior season still ahead of her, the junior from San Diego, Calif. is only the sixth Bulldogs to earn three first team All-Ivy nods. Crusey was also Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 2006. After landing on the second team in 2006 and 2007, Mendenhall cracks the first team after distributing 10.57 assists per set this season. The captain of the 2008 Bulldogs ranks third in program history with 3,124 career assists, and is one of just three Yale players to post two seasons of 1,000+ assists. Additionally, sophomore libero Kelly Ozurovich earned an All-Ivy honorable mention.

With 17 kills at Loyola Marymount on Saturday, Alexis Crusey became the eighth player in Bulldogs history to notch 1,000 career kills. Crusey has tallied 1,013 career finishers entering the weekend. In the same match, the junior also reached the 900-dig plateau. With NCAA Tournament play, as well as one more season of eligibility, ahead of her, Crusey is poised to become the sixth Bulldog to reach both the 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in her career

Freshman middle blocker Taylor Cramm emerged as one of the premier players at the net in Ivy League during her first collegiate season. Cramm ranks second in the Ivy League with a team-best 76 blocks in 72 sets of action. She also recorded 1.51 kills per set with a team-high .259 hitting percentage. Freshmen Bridget Hearst and Katie Cordell also took the court for more than 60 of the Bulldogs' 86 sets during the regular season. In total, all five freshmen on the Yale roster have recorded at least one kill on the season.

Four of the Bulldogs' five losses this season came at the hands of teams that earned spots in the 2008 NCAA Tournament: No. 1 Penn State, No. 15 San Diego, No. 21 Saint Louis and Albany. Yale defeated 2008 NCAA Tournament participants Dayton and Long Island. Ohio will be the seventh 2008 Yale opponent that appeared in last season's NCAA Tournament (the other six are Penn State, Albany, Dayton, Princeton, San Diego and Long Island).

The winner of the Yale-Ohio match-up will face either No. 1 Penn State or Long Island in the second round on Saturday at 4 p.m.

NCAA Championship Central: Contains links to GameTracker Live Stats, video streaming via CBS College Sports, and information about all four teams in the University Park subregional

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity