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Season Preview: Bulldogs Aim to Continue Winning Tradition

Kate Swanson.
Kate Swanson.

Season Preview Highlights

  • As the defending Ivy League champs, Yale is aiming for its seventh Ivy League title in the last nine seasons and ninth championship in 15 years. 
  • The Bulldogs will be featured on ESPNU on Oct. 26 in a home match against Princeton.
  • For the 10th season in a row, Yale's in-coming first-year class has been recognized by
  • Yale returns five All-Ivy selections, including the league's defensive player of the year (Kate Swanson) and rookie of the year (Kathryn Attar). 
  • Entering her 16th season at Yale, head coach Erin Appleman has a career record of 270-104 overall and a 167-43 mark in the Ivy League.
  • On November 9, the Bulldogs will honor past championship teams from 1978, 2008 and 2013.

The Overview

Fresh off their sixth Ivy League title in the last eight seasons (and eighth in the last 14), the Bulldogs aim to continue their success in 2018 with five returning All-Ivy selections and a nationally recognized first-year class.  


The Bulldogs, who finished 16-8 last season and 10-4 in the Ivy League, are led by 2018 senior team captain Kate Swanson.  Last season, Swanson was named Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year (and All-Ivy First Team) and helped guide the Bulldogs to highest digs per set average in the Ivy League.  In addition, 2017 marked the 13th time in the last 15 seasons Yale reached double-digits in Ivy League victories.


"I'm super excited to start the 2018 season," Yale Head Coach Erin Appleman said.  "I feel we have the right pieces to form one of my more competitive teams in my tenure here at Yale University.   Being defending Ivy champions, we have an opportunity to accomplish a lot this season."


Appleman enters the 2018 season with a 270-104 overall record at Yale with a 167-43 mark in the Ivy League.  She is joined by associate head coach Kevin Laseau (15th season at Yale) and assistant coach Brendan McGourn (5th season at Yale).   


The Schedule

Yale opens the 2018 season on Friday, August 31 at 7 p.m. with a home match against in-state opponent and three-time defending MAAC champion Fairfield.  The following day, the Bulldogs will host two more in-state teams -- Quinnipiac and Central Connecticut State.  Trips follow to Rhode Island and Central Florida -- a homecoming for four Bulldogs who are natives of the Sunshine State. Yale opens the Ivy season on Sept. 22 at Brown, and hosts Princeton on Oct. 26 in a nationally televised game on ESPNU.  On November 9, the Bulldogs will honor championship teams from 1978, 2008 and 2013.   View the entire 2018 schedule here


All home matches and Ivy League matchups will be featured online through ESPN+.  


The Seniors

The senior class has contributors at all positions and has a 30-12 Ivy League record over its first three seasons. Team captain Kate Swanson returns after leading the Ivy League in digs per set last season and earning conference defensive player of the year and a first-team honor.  Swanson is joined by another All-Ivy selection, Kelley Wirth, who led the Bulldogs in kills per set.   Kate Aitkenhead, at 6-foot-2, continues to give the Bulldogs a presence at the net, while classmate Shreya Dixit earned the team's players' award for her effort last season.  Also coming back is Gray Malias, who was named winner of the coaches' award in 2017 for her all-around contributions.  


The Juniors

The team's four juniors continue to show progress and will be counted on in 2018.  Frances Arnautou and Tristin Kott both earned All-Ivy Second Team spots last year following stellar seasons.  Arnautou, who became the first Bulldog and was the only Ivy Leaguer to earn a spot on the 16-player U.S. Women's Junior National Training Team, led Yale in assists and aces in 2017.  Kott finished among the top 10 in the Ivy League in kills and hitting percentage.    Classmate Izzy Simqu is coming off a breakout season, ranking 11th in the conference in kills per set and leading the team in blocks.  Rebekah Nemeth returns to give the Bulldogs depth on the right side.

The Sophomores

Kathryn Attar was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year and earned a spot on the conference first team after leading the team in kills per set in Ivy play.  Chiara Spain, who stands 6-foot-3, finished second on the team in blocks in 2017, while classmate Yurika Boyd last season had a 27-dig performance at Brown and a four-ace match against Cornell.  Middle blocker Destiny Daniel in 2017 had a 10-kill performance at UC Santa Barbara, while McKenzie Cooke gives the Bulldogs another solid option at outside hitter.


The First Years

The Bulldogs are the only Ivy League program for the 10th straight year to be recognized by for their in-coming class.  The Yale Class of 2022 — Samantha Bray, Ellis DeJardin, Ashley Dreyer, Lauren Potter, and Renee Shultz — received High Honorable Mention from the online website. Other programs receiving the same honor include Colorado, Florida State, Louisville, and Ohio State.


Report filed by Ernie Bertothy, Yale Sports Publicity