Bulldogs Sweep Georgetown at Yale Invitational

Haley Wessels. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The defending Ivy League Champion Yale Bulldogs opened the 2009 season in impressive fashion on Friday evening, sweeping the visiting Georgetown Hoyas in day one action at the Yale Invitational from the John J. Lee Amphitheater in New Haven, Conn. The Bulldogs got 14 kills apiece out of senior outside hitters Cat Dailey and Alexis Crusey, as well as 31 assists from junior Kate Parker, making her first career start at setter, en route to the straight-set victory by scores of 25-23, 25-18 and 28-26.

With the victory, the Bulldogs begin their sixth consecutive season at 1-0. The win is also the third straight home win for Yale, dating back to last season, and the 23rd win for the program in 27 home openers. The Hoyas fall to 1-3 in the loss.

“Starting a new season, especially in front of a big home crowd, is always exciting,” said Yale Head Coach Erin Appleman. “We definitely had some opening-set jitters, but we hung tough and turned in a solid team effort.”

Dailey’s 14 kills came on 33 swings without an error for a .424 hitting percentage. She also tallied 13 digs on the evening, making her the lone Yale player to record a double-double. Crusey fell with one dig short with nine in addition to her 14 finishers and two blocks. Sophomore Bridget Hearst and senior Laurel Johnson each chipped in with three kills apiece.

Freshman Haley Wessels was a force in her collegiate debut, recording four blocks (three solo) to go alongside four kills, three assists, and a match-high two service aces. Parker complimented her 31 assists with six kills on nine errorless attempts (.667) and four digs. Junior libero Kelly Ozurovich paced all players with 20 digs, while sophomore defensive specialist Laurel Casey got the start and tallied five digs and an assist.

Though the Bulldogs notched the first point of set one on a Wessels kill, it was Georgetown that jumped out to an early advantage, running off three straight points to nab a 3-1 lead. Yale would tie the contest 12 times in the ensuing stretch but could not overtake the Hoyas, though the lead never grew to larger than two points. A Crusey kill finally gave Yale a lead at 20-19, its first since 1-0, but Georgetown answered with four of the next six points to gain a 23-22 advantage. The Hoyas would not score again, however, as consecutive kills by Hearst, Johnson and Dailey wrapped up set one, 25-23.

The beginning of set two was another tightly-contested battle, as the Bulldogs and Hoyas split the first 18 points to deadlock the score at 9-9. At that point, Yale put together a 5-0 run to nab a 14-9 advantage. The Hoyas would close the gap to as few as two points on three occasions, but the Bulldogs reopened a seven-point cushion, led by four late kills from Dailey, and closed out the set running away, 25-18.

While the first two sets were defined by back-and-forth play, set three was defined by runs. Yale took an early three-point lead at 5-2, but Georgetown then tallied 12 of the next 16 points to gain a 14-9 advantage. The edge would shrink to a few as two points on several occasions, but grew back to five at 20-15, with Yale running out of chances to complete the sweep. Dailey then unleashed a flurry of offense accounting for the Bulldogs next four points kept the Bulldogs in the set, and Yale finally broke even with the Hoyas at 24-24, breaking a set-point serve by Georgetown in doing so. A Crusey kill then brought Yale to its first match point at 25-24. The Hoyas would squash two attempts by the Bulldogs to end the contest, but could not string consecutive points together as a Hearst kill and a Georgetown attack error rounded out the set with Yale on top 28-26.

Sara Manley led the Hoyas’ offense with 14 kills and a .364 hitting percentage. Kortney Robinson contributed 11 kills in the loss, while setter Ashley Malone piled up a match-high 37 kills as well as 15 digs. Libero Tory Rezin fortified the Georgetown back row with a team-best 18 digs.

In the opening match of the Yale Invitational, Colorado downed Fairfield, 3-0. The Buffaloes and Hoyas will meet at 11 a.m. tomorrow, while Yale hosts the Stags at 1 p.m. The evening session will feature Fairfield and Georgetown at 5 p.m. and the Bulldogs squaring off with Colorado in the 7 p.m. night cap.

report filed by Drew Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity