Bulldogs Host Yale Classic in Final Non-Conference Weekend

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

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. –
Fresh off of a clean sweep of the Seton Hall Invitational, the Yale volleyball team enters its final weekend of non-conference action with a record of 7-1. The Bulldogs will close out their non-Ivy slate within the familiar confines of the John J. Lee Amphitheater at the 2009 Yale Classic. Yale will host intra-state rival Central Connecticut State on Friday night at 7 p.m. to begin the weekend. After the Bulldogs challenge Quinnipiac on Saturday at 11 a.m., Yale Classic play resumes at 1 p.m. with the Blue Devils playing Binghamton. Binghamton will stay in the Elm City to close out the weekend invitational against the Bulldogs at 7 p.m.

This Is Our House
Yale is 3-0 in home matches this season and has won its last five matches in the John J. Lee Amphitheater dating back to 2008. In total, the Bulldogs were 9-1 at home last season and unbeaten in the Elm City in non-conference action.

Last Time Out
Yale swept Hofstra, NJIT and Seton Hall last weekend to win the Seton Hall Invitational. Senior Cat Dailey was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament and was joined on the All-Tournament Team by senior Laurel Johnson and junior Kelly Ozurovich.

Scouting the Blue Devils (Sept. 25 – 7 p.m.)
Selected to finish third in the Northeast Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll, Central Connecticut State University treks from New Britain to New Haven at 4-7 after defeating Quinnipiac on Wednesday night to snap a three-match losing skid. The Blue Devils are led offensively by 2.88 kills per set from Jamie Baumert, who is swinging at a clip of .373. Amanda Bayer runs the offense, currently averaging 8.27 assists per set, and also fortifies the defense with 2.66 digs per frame. The defensive leaders are Baumert, who is averaging 1.12 blocks per set, and Maite Mendizabal, who leads the Blue Devils in digs with 2.69 per set.

Bulldogs vs. Blue Devils
The Bulldogs are 19-2 all-time against the Blue Devils, though the first 15 of those meetings came before Central Connecticut State joined the Division I ranks (pre-1997). Including a 2-0 mark for Yale Head Coach Erin Appleman in the series, Yale has won the last four encounters between the two programs. The teams last met in 2006 as a part of the Yale Classic, with the Bulldogs earning a straight-set victory.

Against Common Opponents
Central Connecticut State was swept by the New Jersey Institute of Technology and has claimed a five-set victory against Seton Hall. The Bulldogs swept both the Highlanders and the Pirates at the Seton Hall Invitational. The Blue Devils have also been swept by Dartmouth, an Ivy League squad that Yale will host on Oct. 23 and face in Hanover, N.H. on Nov. 7.

Scouting the Bobcats (Sept. 26 – 11 a.m.)
The Quinnipiac Bobcats, chosen to finish last in the Northeast Conference by the league’s coaches, are 1-11 entering this weekend. The Bobcats’ offense in fronted by Kelby Carey (3.08 kills per set) and Alyssa Naylor (2.72 kills per set). Kayla Lawler has filled the setter role, distributing 7.74 assists per frame, and Logan Riker heads the back row with 4.32 digs per set.

Bulldogs vs. Bobcats
The Bulldogs have never lost to Quinnipiac in five meetings dating back to the 1999 season. The lone match during Coach Appleman’s tenure was a Yale sweep at the 2005 Yale Invitational.

Against Common Opponents
Though the Bulldogs and Bobcats have not shared any opponents in 2009, Quinnipiac has challenged a pair of Ivy League clubs: Dartmouth (L, 0-3) and Columbia (L, 1-3).

Scouting the Bearcats (Sept. 26 – 7 p.m.)
The Binghamton University Bearcats come to New Haven with a record of 6-6 in the 2009 season. The Bearcats, who were selected to win the America East Conference in the preseason coaches’ poll, most recently dropped two of three matches at the West Point Challenge. Binghamton is led by a pair of 2008 All-America East first team honorees: Michelle McDonough (3.41 kills and 2.46 digs per set) and setter Lindsey Mueller (9.63 assists and 2.32 digs per set). The Bearcats’ most-prolific attacker this season has been Anna Lejina with 3.95 per set and a team-best .252 hitting percentage. Libero Brianna Strong averages a team-high 5.02 digs per frame.

Bulldogs vs. Bearcats

Yale has won its only two encounters with Binghamton, both under Coach Appleman. The Bulldogs swept the Bearcats at the 2007 Long Island University Tournament and in the 2005 Yale Classic.

Against Common Opponents
The Bulldogs and Bearcats have both swept Hofstra in 2009. Binghamton has also earned a straight-set victory over Ivy League opponent Cornell, who will meet Yale twice during the Ancient Eight season.

Getting Back on Track
Yale’s win over Hofstra on Friday marked the sixth straight match that the Bulldogs have won following a defeat. Yale last suffered consecutive losses in September 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.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Binghamton will be the third Yale opponent this season 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 Patriot League preseason favorite American in that category. Yale swept the Stags at the Yale Invitational on Sept. 5 and also downed the Eagles in Washington, D.C., 3-1, at the American Volleyball Classic.

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.

Like the FBI and the CIA and the BBC…

Junior Kelly Ozurovich eclipsed the 900-dig mark for her career during her All-Tournament caliber performance at this past weekend’s Seton Hall Invitational. Ozurovich, who was also honored by the Ancient Eight as a member of the Ivy League Weekly Honor Roll, was the anchor of a Yale defense that held opponents to a .083 hitting percentage this past weekend. The two-time All-Ivy honoree at libero averaged a stellar 7.00 digs per set and landing four service aces for the Bulldogs in the trio of straight-set victories. Ozurovich currently rates second in the Ivy League and 13th in all of Division I with 5.38 digs per set.

Cat Power
Senior outside hitter Cat Dailey, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, has picked up where she left off in 2008 by earning Most Valuable Player nods at both the season-opening Yale Invitational and the Seton Hall Invitational. Dailey hit a sizzling .487 with 4.88 kills and 3.38 digs per set at the Yale Invitational, a performance for which she was also named Ivy League Player of the Week and garnered national attention as a CVU.com Top Performer. She also averaged 3.89 kills and 4.22 digs per set while posting double-doubles in all three matches at the Seton Hall Invitational. On the season, the Newport Beach, Calif. native has averaged an Ivy League-leading 4.18 kills per set with a .304 hitting percentage, and ranks third in the Ancient Eight with 0.41 service aces per set.

On Crusey Control
One of the most dominant players in the Ivy League for the past three seasons, outside hitter Alexis Crusey started her senior campaign on the right track, grabbing All-Tournament Team honors at both the Yale Invitational and the American Volleyball Classic. Crusey, a three-time first team All-Ivy honoree, is currently averaging 2.76 kills and 3.43 digs per set. Entering this weekend, the unanimous 2006 Ivy League Rookie of the Year ranks eighth in Yale history with 1,091 kills and 10th in digs with 1,009.

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 the squad’s 7-1 start. Yale currently leads all Ivy League teams in digs (18.44 per set), blocks (2.32 per set) and opponent hitting percentage (.124). Junior libero Kelly Ozurovich ranks second in the Ancient Eight with an average of 5.38 digs per set, while senior Laurel Johnson (0.89 blocks per set) leads a trio of Bulldogs in the Ancient Eight top 10 for blocks.

All Set, All Set

The Bulldogs have utilized a pair of setters in 2009: junior Kate Parker and freshman Kerry Clavadetscher. Parker, who made her first career start against Georgetown on Sept. 4, has distributed 80 assists (8.00 per set) and also has tallied 11 kills on 18 swings. Clavadetscher has piled up 8.83 assists per set, including an average of 11.00 assists during last weekend’s Seton Hall Invitational. The freshman has also averaged 2.56 digs and has had a hand in six Bulldog blocks.

Team Up to Fight Cancer
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the volleyball team will combine efforts with the field hockey and women’s soccer teams this October for the first-ever “Team Up to Fight Cancer” initiative. The teams will be selling t-shirts for $10 and collecting donations at home athletic events throughout the weekend of Oct. 2 to benefit the Yale Cancer Center, with the proceeds being designated for breast cancer research.

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.

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.

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 Sept. 5 sweep of Fairfield, the Bulldogs are 94-29 against opponents from the state of Connecticut. Yale’s most frequent opponent from the Nutmeg State has been the University of Hartford, against whom 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 9-2 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.

2009 Schedule Notes
The 2009 schedule consists of 13 home matches and 12 road matches…The Bulldogs’ non-conference slate includes four opponents to whom they have never lost (Binghamton, Quinnipiac, Seton Hall, Virginia Tech), and an opponent they have never beaten (American)…Colorado and New Jersey Institute of Technology are both first-time opponents for Yale…Under Coach Appleman (2003-present), Yale has only played five of its 2009 non-conference opponents (Binghamton, Central Connecticut State, Georgetown, Hofstra, Quinnipiac). The Bulldogs are a combined 7-0 in those matches…Hofstra (Sept. 18) is the only repeat opponent from the 2008 non-conference schedule…Yale will only play two matches at the American Volleyball Classic (American and Virginia Tech). The fourth team at the event, NJIT, will challenge the Bulldogs the following weekend at the Seton Hall Tournament… Last season, Yale and Brown played a home-and-home series to open Ivy League play. This year, the series is split as the first and last matches of the Ancient Eight schedule…The Bulldogs will play three in-state opponents (Central Connecticut State, Fairfield, Quinnipiac), the most Nutmeg State foes they have challenged since 2005. Yale did not face any Connecticut squads in 2007 or 2008.

Beach Blanket Broadcast

The Bulldogs relocated their morning practice on Friday, Aug. 28 from the friendly 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.

Beginning the Defense

The defending Ivy League Champion Bulldogs return to the court on Friday, Oct. 2 as they kick off the 2009 Ancient Eight schedule against Brown. Action from the John J. Lee Amphitheater begins at 7 p.m.

Yale Volleyball
Binghamton Volleyball
Central Connecticut State Volleyball
Quinnipiac Volleyball

Media Links
Live Stats (all matches)
Streaming Video (Yale matches only)

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity