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Fast Start, Strong Finish Lift Yale Over Columbia

Kelly Ozurovich. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Kelly Ozurovich. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Bulldogs Improve to 7-0 at Home with Win Over Lions

After storming out to a 2-0 set lead, the Yale women's volleyball team withstood a Columbia comeback and held on to a 3-1 (25-17, 25-12, 25-27, 25-23) victory on Saturday night at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.  With the victory, Yale moved up in the Ivy League standings, improved to 10-7 overall and 4-2 in the conference.

Bridget Hearst contributed a match-high 16 kills, including six in an intense fourth set, for the Bulldogs.  Team captain Kelly Ozurovich put on a defensive showcase with several key digs among her match-best 32, while Katie Cordell notched a double-double with 13 kills and 18 digs.

With a 2-0 edge, the Bulldogs appeared to have the match under control.  Columbia, however, extended the match after a tight third set and pushed Yale to the brink in the fourth.

In a back and forth final set, Yale's Erica Reetz tallied nine digs and broke a 20-all tie off a set up from Kendall Polan, who posted 38 assists, 12 digs and six kills.  Monique Roberts promptly responded for the Lions with one of her 10 kills to re-tie the set for the 13th time.

Hearst exploded for back-to-back kills, fired up the crowd and gave the Bulldogs a lead they would never relinquish.   Haley Wessels finished off the match with her ninth kill of the evening.

Yale set an early tone with a fast start to the match.

Megan Gaughn began the night with a kill for Columbia.  Reetz answered with a kill, followed by two Cordell kills to give Yale a 3-1 lead.  The Bulldogs never trailed for the rest of first set, which was eventually ended with a Hearst kill. 

The Bulldogs dominated the second set by scoring seven of the first eight points.  With the score 14-8, Yale ran off 10 straight points that culminated with a kill from Cordell.

Despite seven different Bulldogs registering a kill in the third set, Columbia outlasted Yale's balanced attack.  A Cordell kill gave the Bulldogs a 24-21 lead, but it quickly vanished after Christina Campbell capped a 3-0 run for the Lions. 

Hearst brought the crowd to its feet with an inspired kill to get the Bulldogs one point away from ending the match.  Heather Braunagel, Columbia's best hitter on the night with a .393 hitting percentage, slammed one of her team-high 13 kills to tie the set.  After a Yale error, Gaughn completed the Columbia comeback with her only kill of the set.

Kerry Clavadetscher added 19 assists and 12 digs for the Bulldogs, who have won 12 straight home matches dating back to last season.   Yale moved into third place in the Ivy standings, trailing only Penn (4-1 in Ivy play) and first-place Princeton (5-0 in Ivy play).

Next weekend, the Bulldogs hit the road to take on conference foes Harvard (Friday, 7 p.m.) and Dartmouth (Saturday, 5 p.m.).