November 13, 2009

Seniors’ Last Stand: Bulldogs Host Columbia and Cornell in Final Home Weekend

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. – With the 2009 regular season coming to a close, the Bulldog faithful will have one more weekend to cheer for the Yale volleyball team as Columbia and Cornell visit the John J. Lee Amphitheater for the season’s final home matches. The Friday match with the Lions and Saturday’s showdown against Big Red are both slated for a 4 p.m. first serve. Yale enters the weekend at 18-4 overall and 8-3 in Ivy League play.

Last Time Out
The Bulldogs grabbed an emotional five-set victory at historic rival Harvard on Friday night, but fell to Dartmouth in four sets on Saturday. Senior outside hitter Alexis Crusey averaged 4.11 kills and 5.33 digs per set, notching double-doubles in both contests, to earn a slot on the Ivy League Weekly Honor Roll for the fourth time this season.

This Is Our House
Yale is 10-1 in home matches this season. The Bulldogs went 9-1 in the Elm City last season, including a 6-1 home record against Ivy League competition. Only Penn has defeated Yale at the John J. Lee Amphitheater in each of the last two seasons.

Getting Back on Track
Yale has won eight straight matches following a loss. The Bulldogs were last defeated in consecutive matches in September of 2008 at the Penn State Classic against the eventual-National Champion Lady Lions and Saint Louis, a team that finished last season ranked at No. 21 in the nation. Yale’s last four wins following a defeat have been in straight sets.

Scouting Columbia (Nov. 13 – 4 p.m.)
A much improved team from last season’s squad that went winless in Ivy League play, the Columbia Lions enter the weekend at 11-14 overall and 2-10 in the Ancient Eight. Freshman Megan Gaughn has sparked the Lions’ offense with 4.01 kills per frame, the second-highest average in the Ivy League. Kelsey Musselman, another freshman, runs the offense from the setter spot and has distributed 7.44 assists per set. Defensively, Monique Roberts rates second in the league with 0.99 blocks per set, and libero Ellie Thomas is sixth in the league in digs at 4.71 per set.

Earlier This Season
Sophomore Bridget Hearst had a career-high 27 kills, the most in a single match tallied by an current Bulldogs, and seniors Cat Dailey and Alexis Crusey both recorded double-doubles as the Bulldogs down the Lions in New York City on Oct. 17 by a score of 3-1. Hearst’s 27 kills came on 35 swings with four errors for a .657 hitting percentage. Her previous career mark, which she has reached three times in her career, was 11 kills. Dailey had 18 kills and 15 digs to tally her seventh double-double of the season. Crusey’s double-double was comprised of 13 kills and 20 digs. Freshman Kerry Clavadetscher ran the offense and dished out 56 assists. Junior Kelly Ozurovich had 21 digs out of the libero slot, sharing the match high with Columbia libero Ellie Thomas.

Scouting Cornell (Nov. 14 – 4 p.m.)
The Cornell Big Red, who will play at Brown on Friday before visiting the Elm City, enters the weekend at 6-17 overall and 3-9 in Ivy League contests. The Big Red attack is led by Deveney Pula, who is averaging 2.97 kills per set. Setter Jordan Reeder has doled out 8.09 assists per frame, and Megan Mushovic has notched 4.79 digs per set as the libero.

Earlier This Season
The Bulldogs rebounded from a tough five-set loss to Penn by sweeping Big Red in Ithaca on Oct. 16 by set scores of 26-24, 25-23 and 25-14. Senior Cat Dailey led all players with 12 kills. Freshman Kerry Clavadetscher dished out a match-best 34 assists, and junior libero Kelly Ozurovich picked up 25 digs in the three-set match. Dailey complimented her 12 kills with nine digs. Freshman Haley Wessels had 10 kills in the contest, and senior Laurel Johnson added eight. Senior Alexis Crusey had six kills, senior captain Julia Mailander tallied four and Clavadetscher picked up two kills from the setter slot. Sophomore Bridget Hearst added one kill to round out the Yale attack. As a team, the Bulldogs hit .239 (43-15-117) for the match, while Big Red swung at a .139 (33-16-122) clip. Yale won the blocking battle, 9-6.5, led by four apiece from Crusey, Johnson and Wessels. The Bulldogs landed seven service aces compared to three by Cornell.

The Chase for the Crown
The 11-0 Penn Quakers have already clinched a share of the 2009 Ivy League Championship. Penn would need to lose its remaining three contests- all of which are against teams the Quakers have previously beaten in 2009- and the Bulldogs would have to win their last three matches to salvage a split of the title.

On Crusey Control
One of the most dominant players in the Ivy League for the past four seasons, senior outside hitter Alexis Crusey is currently averaging 3.24 kills and 3.61 digs per frame, ranking eighth in the Ancient Eight in both categories. The three-time first team All-Ivy honoree ranks fourth in Yale history with 1,260 kills and seventh in digs with 1,190 entering this weekend. Prior to the Ivy League season, Crusey grabbed All-Tournament Team honors at both the Yale Invitational and the American Volleyball Classic and took home Most Valuable Player laurels at the Yale Classic. Her performance at the Yale Classic also merited Ivy League Player of the Week honors.

Cat Power
Senior outside hitter Cat Dailey, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, has picked up where she left off in 2008, as she currently leads the Ancient Eight in kills with 4.02 per set. Dailey is also in the Ivy League top 10 in hitting percentage (.264), service aces (0.32 per set) and digs (3.29 per set). She was named Ivy League Player of the Week and a CVU.com Top Performer in the first week of action this season after hitting at a sizzling .487 clip, notching 39 kills on 78 attempts with just one error (4.88 kills per set) en route to being named the Most Valuable Player of the Yale Invitational. Dailey recently added to her list of accolades as a member of the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District First Team.

The Wizard
Junior libero Kelly Ozurovich reached a milestone in the Oct. 2 sweep of Brown, as she tallied her 1,000th career dig. Ozurovich, an All-Ivy honoree in both of her previous seasons at Yale, currently ranks second in the Ivy League and 15th in all of Division I with 5.34 digs per set this season. A two-time Ivy League Weekly Honor Roll selection this season, Ozurovich currently sits at seventh all-time in Yale history (tied with Alexis Crusey) with 1,190 digs.

The Ministry of Defense
As potent as the Yale offense has been thus far in 2009, the Bulldogs’ defense has certainly done its part in guiding the squad to its 18-4 record. Yale currently leads all Ivy League teams in blocks (2.15 per set), opponent hitting percentage (.145) and digs (18.41 per set).

An Instant Impact
After playing an integral part in the Bulldogs’ 2-0 road weekend at Cornell and Columbia on Oct. 16 and 17, Kerry Clavadetscher was recognized by the Ivy League as its Rookie of the Week. The freshman setter, who averaged 12.86 assists per set in seven frames of action in that weekend, has now earned the distinction twice in 2009. For the season, Clavadetscher has been the second-most prolific setter in the Ivy League with an average of 10.76 assists per frame. The Seattle, Wash. native has also contributed 2.03 digs per set, 28 blocks, 28 kills and 10 service aces in 63 sets of action.

The Hits Kept on Coming
Sophomore Bridget Hearst turned in a remarkable performance in Yale’s four-set win at Columbia on Oct. 17. Hearst tallied a match-best 27 kills on 35 swings with just four errors for a stellar .657 hitting percentage. Her 27 kills marked the most by a Yale player since Shannon Farrell ’07 totaled 31 kills in five sets against Cornell in the 2004 Ivy League Playoff. Hearst was recognized for her performance as a member of the Ivy League Weekly Honor Roll.

Homecoming Queen
Playing in her home state of New Jersey, senior Laurel Johnson hit a commanding .424 (29-4-59) as the Bulldogs swept a trio of matches on Sept. 18-19 to win the Seton Hall Invitational. The Cherry Hill, N.J. native earned All-Tournament and Ivy League Player of the Week honors on the back of averaging 3.22 kills per set and amassing a tournament-best 1.22 blocks per set.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Yale’s straight-set win over Binghamton on Sept. 26 marked the Bulldogs’ third victory this season against an opponent that was selected to win its conference in the preseason coaches’ poll. The Bearcats, representing the America East Conference, join Fairfield from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and the Patriot League preseason favorite, American University, on the Bulldogs’ hit list.

Road Dogs
The Bulldogs are 6-2 in true road contests this season, and 8-3 in all matches away from the John J. Lee Amphitheater in 2009. Yale went 8-4 in road matches last season, including a 7-0 Ivy League mark on the road, and notched four wins in five matches on neutral courts.

Starting Strong
Yale’s 12-1 start to the 2009 campaign was the best in program history. The 2005 Bulldogs, who previously owned the best start in Yale history, started 11-1 en route to a 20-4 (11-3 Ivy) finish. Yale’s 10-1 tally in non-conference contests this season signifies the best non-league mark for a Yale squad since 2001, when the non-conference schedule was shortened in favor of a 14-match Ivy League slate.

High School Heroines

PrepVolleyball.com, the Internet’s first and only website dedicated to covering club and high school volleyball on a national level, selected the Yale Class of 2013 as a High Honorable Mention in its annual rankings of the nation’s top recruiting classes, as determined by a panel of over 100 collegiate coaches. The Yale class of 2013 consists of Anya Cekauskas, Kerry Clavadetscher, Julia Cortopassi and Haley Wessels. Two of the four Ivy League recruiting classes to ever receive High Honorable Mention status have been Yale squads. The Bulldogs’ Class of 2010 (current seniors Alexis Crusey, Laurel Johnson, Julia Mailander and Lydia Mailander) also earned the distinction in 2006.

Trend Setters
Yale is the only Ivy League volleyball program to notch a win in the NCAA Championships. The 2004 Bulldogs, the first Ancient Eight squad to host an NCAA Championship match, knocked off Albany in five sets to tally the first postseason win in conference history. The 2008 Yale team then defeated Ohio in the University Park (Pa.) Subregional to become the first Ivy League team to win an NCAA Championship match away from its home court.

State Troopers

Including the sweeps of Fairfield, Central Connecticut State and Quinnipiac this season, the Bulldogs are 96-29 all-time against opponents from the state of Connecticut. Yale’s most frequent opponent from the Nutmeg State has been the University of Hartford, against which the Bulldogs are 21-3. The University of Connecticut has had the most success against the Bulldogs among in-state rivals with a 12-4 advantage in the series. Head Coach Erin Appleman is 11-2 versus the Constitution State, with both losses coming at the hands of the Huskies.

Beaten By the Best
The Bulldogs’ record-setting 2008 season ended in the NCAA Championship Second Round at the hands of No. 1 Penn State. The match, which was held on the Lady Lions’ home court, was the 34th consecutive sweep for the eventual national champions, who dropped only two sets all season en route to a 38-0 finish. In total, five of Yale’s six losses in 2008 came at the hands of teams that advanced to the NCAA Championship tournament.

On the Court and in the Classroom

The American Volleyball Coaches Association has announced that the Bulldogs are among the recipients of the AVCA Team Academic Award. The award has been presented annually since 1993 to collegiate and high school volleyball teams that have displayed excellence in the classroom during the school year by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade-point average.

Dig, Set, Tweet!
The Yale volleyball team has a new home in cyberspace this season, courtesy of Twitter, at http://www.twitter.com/YaleVolleyball. The Bulldogs’ Twitter page will feature news, information and live updates during most road matches.

Team Up to Fight Cancer
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the volleyball team has combined efforts with the field hockey and women’s soccer teams this October for the first-ever “Team Up to Fight Cancer” initiative. The teams sold t-shirts and collected donations at home athletic events throughout the weekend of Oct. 2 to benefit the Yale Cancer Center, with the net proceeds being designated for breast cancer research.

Beach Blanket Broadcast
The Bulldogs relocated their morning practice on Friday, Aug. 28 from the familiar confines of the John J. Lee Amphitheater to scenic Hammonasset Beach in Madison, Conn. The defending Ivy League Champions hit the sand at Meig’s Point with the crew of the Fox 61 Morning News as a part of the “Zip Trip” segment, which highlights Connecticut-based attractions. Coach Appleman and members of the Yale team fielded questions from anchor Jeff Valin, while host Logan Byrnes took a few practice swings with the team.

And One More for the Road
The Bulldogs will wrap up the 2009 regular season on Tuesday, Nov. 17 with an Ivy League contest at Brown. First serve from Providence, R.I. is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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