Dramatic Comeback Falls Short for Bulldogs
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- After dropping the first two sets, Yale won the next two before falling to Penn, 3-2 (25-18, 25-18, 23-25, 17-25, 15-8), in a one-match playoff to determine the Ivy League representative in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday afternoon at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. The Bulldogs, who won a share of the Ivy League Championship, finished their season with an 18-8 overall record and a 12-2 mark in conference play.
Bridget Hearst, a first-team all-Ivy selection, slammed a team-best 18 kills for the Bulldogs, who won 10 in a row prior to today's match to clinch a share of their third conference title in the last seven years.
"We had an unbelievable season," Yale head coach Erin Appleman said. "We exceeded expectations and left it all on the court today."
Kendall Polan, the Ivy League Rookie of the Year, just missed a triple-double and had several key kills during the match to force a fifth game. Polan, also named to the conference's first team, finished with 30 assists, 17 digs and nine kills.
Tied at 22 in the third set, the Bulldogs turned to Polan, and she delivered. Polan kills accounted for the final three Yale points of the set, including the decisive attack as she was falling away from the net off a set from Kerry Clavadetscher to cap the set.
Penn cut the deficit to 14-12, but Taylor Cramm and Hearst posted back-to-back kills before a ball-handling error to give Yale three straight points and restore its lead to five.
On defense, Kelly Ozurovich put on a defensive showcase. Ozurovich, Yale's senior captain, had seven digs in the fourth set and a match-best 32 on the day in her final collegiate performance.
Ozurovich ended her Yale career as the program's all-time digs leader.
"Kelly was unbelievable today, and she's had a remarkable career at Yale," Appleman said. "She played with heart and soul today."
Yale scored eight of the final 11 points of the fourth set en route to victory.
In the deciding fifth game, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 3-1 lead after a Reetz service ace. Lauren Martin, who had a match-best 22 kills, struck for two in a row to tie the score.
Hearst followed with a kill to break the three-all tie. Following that point, Penn scored the next six – which included three kills from Amanda Pacheco (11 kills in the match).
Haley Wessels, who had eight kills, six block assists and one block solo, ended the Penn run with a kill. The Bulldogs, however, would not get any closer.