Virginia Tech Tops Yale in Battle of Unbeatens

Alexis Crusey. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Alexis Crusey. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The last time the Yale volleyball team played Virginia Tech, the Bulldogs swept the Hokies at the George Washington Invitational on Sept. 22, 1979. Nearly 30 years later, and only a few miles down the road at the American Volleyball Classic in Washington, D.C., Virginia Tech returned the favor with a straight-set victory over Yale by set score of 25-21, 25-15 and 26-24. The Bulldogs got a match-high 12 kills from senior Cat Dailey and six kills and a match-best 11 digs from senior Alexis Crusey. Crusey earned All-Tournament honors for her performance this weekend.

With the loss, Yale falls to 4-1 in 2009 while the Hokies remain unbeaten at 8-0.

“Virginia Tech is a tough team,” said Yale Head Coach Erin Appleman, “but playing tough matches on the road is important going into the Ivy League.”

Sophomore Bridget Hearst had eight kills on 16 swings for the Bulldogs, and junior libero Kelly Ozurovich tallied nine digs. Freshman Kerry Clavadetscher distributed 12 assists for Yale, while junior Kate Parker was right behind her with 11.

As teams, the Bulldogs and Hokies posted comparable offensive numbers, hitting .228 (25-14-92) and .260 (39-14-96) respectively, and Yale edged its opponent in blocks, 6-5. However, the Bulldogs allowed a season-high 10 service aces, while landing just two of their own.

The Hokies came out firing in the first set and took 12 of the first 18 points, forcing Coach Appleman to call her first timeout. The Bulldogs took three straight points out of the stoppage to close the gap at 12-9, but Virginia Tech made the three-point cushion stand up all the way to a score of 19-16. At that point, Yale committed a service error and came up on the short end of a long rally to run the score to 21-16 and force another timeout. The Bulldogs rallied to cut the lead to three points at 23-20 but eventually ran out of room on the scoresheet as the Hokies took set one, 25-21.

Yale outhit Virginia Tech in the set, .241 (11-4-29) to .233 (12-5-30), and each team notched two blocks, but the Hokies landed three service aces as compared to one for the Bulldogs. Dailey smashed a set-best five kills for Yale.

Amy Wengrenovich started set two with a pair of aces of Virginia Tech, but Yale rattled off the next points of the frame to knot the score at 2-2. That trend continues, as the Hokies posted two points, followed by two from the Bulldogs to create a 4-4 deadlock. Virginia Tech then put together the first run of the set, racking up eight of the next 10 points to take a 12-6 lead and force a Yale timeout. The Hokies were unfazed by the intermission, as they grabbed the ensuing five points after the stoppage to take a commanding 17-6 lead. The Bulldogs would outscore Virginia Tech over the final stretch of action, but the Hokies’ lead proved insurmountable as they claimed the second set by a score of 25-15.

Yale hit .208 (10-5-24) in the frame, while the Hokies swung at a .346 (11-2-26) clip. Virginia Tech led the set in blocks, 3-0, and service aces, 5-0. Dailey again led the Bulldogs’ offense in the stanza with three kills.

With their backs against the wall, the Bulldogs fought the Hokies to a 13-13 tie to begin the third set and then strung together consecutive points to take a 15-13 lead and force Virginia Tech Head Coach Chris Riley to burn his first timeout. The Hokies responded to the timeout with three straight points, and the ensuing action saw the score deadlocked again at 17-17. The stalemate then ran to 19-19, and a Virginia Tech kill forced a Yale timeout, trailing 20-19. After a Hokies’ run, the Bulldogs fought back and broke three match points to tie the set at 24-24, but Virginia Tech answered with the final two points to take the match with a 26-24 victory.

Yale hit at a .211 (13-5-38) clip in the third set, while the Hokies swung to the tune of .225 (16-7-40). The Bulldogs won the blocking battle in the frame, 4-0, and the Hokies tallied two service aces to Yale’s one.

Jennifer Wilker and Felicia Wiloughby each notched eight kills for Virginia Tech, and setter Erin Leaser dished out a match-best 29 assists. Jill Gergen led the Hokies’ defensive effort with 10 digs.

The Bulldogs are back in action next weekend for a trio of matches at the Seton Hall Invitational. Yale challenges Hofstra on Friday, Sept. 18 at 5 p.m. and will battle the New Jersey Institute of Technology (1 p.m.) and the host Pirates (7 p.m.) on Saturday, Sept. 19. Action returns to the John J. Lee Amphitheater on Sept. 25 as the Bulldogs host Central Connecticut State at 7 p.m. as a part of the Yale Classic.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity