2010 Season Preview: Bulldogs Feature Mix of Youth and Talent

The Yale huddle. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
The Yale huddle. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Yale Begins Season On Sept. 3

The theme for the 2010 Yale Women's Volleyball season may be summed up in one word:  opportunity.

In 2009, the Bulldogs finished 21-4 overall, compiled an 11-3 Ivy record and completed the best four-year run in the program's history with a 74-27 mark.  After the season, head coach Erin Appleman and the team said goodbye to five key seniors. 

This year, the Bulldogs showcase a skilled, but young team that has a chance to develop its own identity, compete at a high level and continue the success of Yale Volleyball.

Every team needs leadership, and this year's team features one senior, Kelly Ozurovich, who will serve as the team's captain.  Ozurovich, a recipient of all-Ivy honors each of her first three seasons, enters the 2010 campaign fifth all-time in digs at Yale.  As the team's libero, her defensive prowess put her second in the Ivy League in digs per set (5.38) and 13th overall in Division I.   

The junior class includes three players – Bridget Hearst, Taylor Cramm and Katie Cordell -- with notable experience who all bring key abilities to the court.  Hearst, an opposite hitter, returns following a second-team All-Ivy season and stands to be one of the primer players in the league.  Cramm started each of the last two seasons in the middle blocker position and finished second on the team in blocks per set last year.   Cordell, an outside hitter, earned playing time the last two years as a serving specialist, and will compete to be one of the two outside hitters this season.

Four sophomores highlight the Bulldogs' roster, including Kerry Clavadetscher, the team's top setter.  Clavadetscher earned All-Ivy Honorable Mention honors, ranked second in the conference in assists per set, won two league "rookie of the week" awards and completed her first season at Yale as the team's Most Improved Player.  After appearing in 71 sets last season as a freshman, Haley Wessels made an immediate impact as the team's leader in blocks per set (0.92).  Anya Cekauskas begins her second season in the mix for more playing time at the outside hitter position, while Julia Cortopassi returns from an injury that kept her off the court in 2009.

Also adding to the team is a highly touted recruiting class.  For the third time in five years and the second in a row, Yale's incoming recruiting class has been deemed as one of the nation's best according to Prepvolleyball.com, a website dedicated to the coverage of high school and club volleyball. Yale Volleyball's Class of 2014 features McHaney Carter (middle blocker), Gina Finke (outside hitter), Kendall Polan (setter) and Erica Reetz (outside hitter).   This group of newcomers was selected for high honorable mention in Prepvolleyball.com's annual rankings of the nation's top recruiting classes, as determined by a panel of over 100 collegiate coaches.

The first serve of the season takes place on September 3 at the Yale Invitational at the Lee Amphitheater, where the Bulldogs are 31-5 over the last three seasons.  The Bulldogs will host Stony Brook, Quinnipiac and Rhode Island during the two-day event.

The 2010 non-conference slate is highlighted by two separate tournaments on the road. 

On September 10 and 11, the Bulldogs travel to Long Island University, the Northeast Conference's six-time reigning champs, to face not only the host team but also Georgetown of the Big East.  The following weekend, the Bulldogs travel to face perennial West Coast power Cal-State Fullerton during a two-day invitational that will also include matches against Liberty, who won 20 matches last season and West Virginia.

Yale kicks off the Ivy season on October 1 at Brown, with the two teams playing the following night in New Haven.