GAME NOTES: Yale and USC Faceoff in NCAA First-Round Match

Yale celebrates a point. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Yale celebrates a point. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Yale (18-6, 12-2) vs. USC (25-4, 20-2)

NCAA Tournament First Round - Honolulu Region

December 2, 2011, 10 p.m. ET

Galen Center - Los Angeles, Calif.

Match Notes | Watch Match | Live Stats

Ivy League champion Yale (18-6, 12-2) faces USC, the Pac-12 Champions and No.7 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Trojans (25-4, 20-2), ranked No. 1 in the latest AVCA poll, represent one of seven Pac-12 schools to make the Tournament and have qualified for the postseason 21 consecutive times.  USC's Alex Jupiter leads the Pac-12 in points per set (5.38), first in service aces (0.51) and third in kills (4.45).  Today's match marks the second Pac-12 opponent for the Bulldogs.  On Sept. 3, Yale lost to Utah, 3-1, in its only home loss of the season.  This is the first meeting between Yale and USC.

Oklahoma and Tulsa will meet in the other first-round match up at the Galen Center on Friday.   The winner will face the winner of the Yale-USC match. Tulsa (27-6, 18-2) won the Conference USA title, while Oklahoma (21-11, 8-8) earned at-large bid with a fifth-place finish in the Big 12 Conference.  

Today marks the third-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament for Yale, and its first appearance since 2008.  The Bulldogs have won two of the only three victories by an Ivy League team in the NCAAs.  In 2008, Yale defeated Ohio in five sets and lost, 3-0, to Penn State in the second round.  In 2004, Yale hosted the NCAA first-and second-rounds in New Haven, Conn.  The Bulldogs beat Albany, 3-1, in the first round and fell 3-0 to Minnesota in the second. 
In 2011, Yale won its second straight Ivy League championship, its third in four years and fourth overall.  The Bulldogs (18-6 overall) finished 12-2 in the conference for the second year in a row and clinched the outright title with a 3-0 win at Harvard on Nov. 11, 2011.  Yale shared the 2010 crown with Penn.  The Bulldogs lost 3-2 in a one-match playoff to determine the conference's representative in the NCAAs.  Yale took the 2008 Ivy title with a 13-1 mark and shared the 2004 championship with three other teams.  The Bulldogs won the 2004 tie-breaking playoff to earn their first-ever trip to the NCAAs.
After earning conference rookie of the year honors in 2010, Kendall Polan was named Ivy League Player of the Year in 2011.  Polan led the conference and ranked 46th in the country in assists per set (10.84), earned Ivy Player of the Week twice, and ranked in the conference top-10 in digs per set (9th, 3.84) and service aces (6th, 0.29) per set in Ivy League matches.   In addition, she earned MVP of the Yale Invitational.  Polan posted 50 or more assists in four matches this season, and delivered 21 or more digs twice during the year.
Mollie Rogers was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year this season.  The honor marked the second straight season a Yale student-athlete (Kendall Polan) won the award.  Rogers led the team and ranked sixth in the conference in kills per set (3.23).  Rogers won Ivy Rookie of the Week three times during the season.  In conference matches, Rogers ranked among the top 10 in points per set (5th, 3.77), kills per set (5th, 3.35) and hitting percentage (7th, .297).  In addition, Rogers earned all-tournament honors in three pre-conference tournaments – the Yale Classic, Yale Invitational and the Maryland Terrapin Invitational.
Yale finished the 2011 regular season ranked second in NCAA Division I in digs per set.  The Bulldogs average 18.70 digs per set.  Southern Mississippi leads the nation with an 18.76 mark. 

The Bulldogs feature five student-athletes with at least 100 kills this season.  Mollie Rogers (281), Allie Frappier (255), Erica Reetz (195), McHaney Carter (169) and Kendall Polan (100) all reached the century mark.  Rogers finished sixth overall in the Ivy League with a 3.23 kills per set average, while Frappier was seventh with a 3.07 mark. 
Yale swept the Ivy League major postseason volleyball awards as sophomore setter Kendall Polan was named Player of the Year, while freshman outside hitter Mollie Rogers was selected Rookie of the Year by the League's eight head coaches. Polan and Rogers were also both named first team All-Ivy. Freshman Allie Frappier and sophomore Erica Reetz were second team selections and senior Taylor Cramm earned honorable mention recognition.  This is the third time in school history that Yale has received both awards, and the first time since 1993 when Pauline Mu was named Co-Player of the Year and Leigh Brezler was the Rookie of the Year.  Polan's award is her second consecutive Ivy League major post season honor as she was named Rookie of the Year last year. She is the first Bulldog to receive Player of the Year honors since Cat Dailey in 2008.

Three Yale freshmen have made an immediate impact in their brief time as a Bulldog.  Mollie Rogers leads the team in kills per set, Allie Frappier ranks second on the squad, and Maddie Rudnick paces the team in digs per set.  Rogers won Ivy League Rookie of the Year and Frappier earned All-Ivy Second Team.  In conference matches, Frappier ranked second in the Ivy League in kills per set (3.53), while Rogers ranked fifth with 3.35.   Rudnick ranked sixth in digs with a 5.0 average.

In her ninth season at the helm of the Yale volleyball team, Erin Appleman has established herself as one of the most accomplished coaches in the history of Ivy League volleyball. She has won four Ivy League Championships (2004, 2008, 2010, and 2011) and was the first volleyball coach in league history to guide a team to victory in an NCAA Championship match, a feat she accomplished in both 2004 and 2008. The second-winningest coach in Yale history at 164-62, her .726 winning percentage is the best all-time at Yale. In 2010, the Bulldogs finished with a 12-2 conference mark and tied for first place in the Ivy League standings.  At one point during the season, the Bulldogs won 10 straight Ivy matches and forced a one-match playoff against Penn.   Five members of the team earned all-Ivy status, including Kendall Polan, who earned conference rookie of the year honors.. Appleman led Yale to a 21-4 mark in 2009, the best record in program history and the first time the Bulldogs posted back-to-back 20-win seasons since 1995-96. The 2009 Yale team produced five All-Ivy players, including first team honorees Alexis Crusey and Cat Dailey, en route to claiming second place in the Ivy League at 11-3. Yale has finished in first or second place in each of the past eight seasons, winning at least 10 Ancient Eight matches in each campaign as well. Overall, the Bulldogs boast a record of 98-28 against Ivy League opponents during Appleman's tenure.

Three different Bulldogs hit .500 or better in a match this season with at least 12 kills.  Haley Wessels hit .522 with 13 kills in a 3-1 win over Princeton on Nov. 5, Erica Reetz hit .520 with 15 kills in a 3-1 win at Columbia on Oct. 28, and Mollie Rogers hit .515 in the confernce-title-clinching 3-0 win at Harvard on Nov. 11. 

Yale freshman libero Maddie Rudnick set the Ivy League season-high mark in a three-set match with 30 digs against Cornell on Sept. 30 in New Haven.  The 30 dig total also representated a team-best total in any match this season.  Rudnick also struck for 27 digs twice, while fellow freshman Mollie Rogers also struck for 27 against Boston College in her collegiate debut.

The Bulldogs led the Ivy League in the following team statistical categories:  kills per set (14.01), assists per set (13.07), hitting percentage (.254), opponent's hitting percentage (.168) and digs per set (18.70). 

Yale's .253 hitting percentage marked the fourth-highest team total in program history.  Individually, senior Taylor Cramm hit .366 for the season and ranked second overall in the Ivy League.  Haley Wessels finished the season with a .306 average and was sixth in the conference.

Sophomore Kendall Polan led the Ivy League with a 10.84 assist per set average.  Polan totaled 50 or more assists in four matches this season, including a season-high 57 assists in a 3-1 win over Princeton on Nov. 5.

The Bulldogs feature seven student-athletes who reside in California.  Katie Cordell (Yorba Linda), Taylor Cramm (Laguna Niguel), Allie Frappier (San Mateo), Bridget Hearst (Pacific Pallisades), Kendall Polan (Cardiff), Mollie Rogers (San Diego) and Maddie Rudnick (Encinitas).   Head coach Erin Appleman played at San Diego State, while assistant coach Amy DeGroot played at the University of San Diego. 

Yale senior captain Taylor Cramm not only represents one of the most accurate hitters in the Ivy League, she also has her own online weekly show on the Yale Athletics Website.  The show, entitled Catching Up With Cramm, is co-hosted with Yale volleyball associate head coach Kevin Lasseau.  The show offers a student-athlete perspective of the team on and off the court. Cramm finished the season with the sixth-highest single-season hitting percentage (.366) in Yale program history.  The percentage also ranked second overall in the Ivy League this season.

Kevin Laseau is in his eighth season on Erin Appleman's staff and the Bulldogs have won four Ivy League titles.  During 2010, the Bulldogs finished 12-2 in the Ivy League, won ten straight confernce matches at one point and tied for first in the confernce standings.  Laseau helped coach five all-Ivy student-athletes that year. In 2009, Laseau helped lead the Bulldogs to the best record in program history at 21-4. Laseau was on the sidelines for the Bulldogs' 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2011 Ivy League Championships, along with its two NCAA Championship First-Round victories.  Yale is 138-53 (.723) during Laseau's tenure, and has won at least 10 Ivy League matches in all eight of his seasons in New Haven.  Laseau was promoted to associate head coach at Yale in 2008.  Laseau came to the Elm City with over 20 years of national club coaching experience, which includes a National Junior Championship and three bronze medals in the 16-open division with the prestigious Munciana (Ind.) Volleyball club.  As an assistant coach, Laseau helped guide the Munciana 16-open squad to a national title in 1997, a bronze medal in 1999, and a second-place finish at the AAU Nationals in 1989. Laseau became head coach in 2000 and led the team to back-to-back bronze medals in 2000 and 2001. In addition, he coached in all but one Junior Olympics tournament from 1987-2003.

Amy DeGroot, a former All-American at University of San Diego, has been named to the Yale volleyball coaching staff.  DeGroot, the 2008 West Coast Conference Player of the Year, helped lead the Toreros to four league titles before graduating in 2010.  As an outside hitter, DeGroot earned All-West Coast Conference First-Team honors three times. During her senior year in 2010, DeGroot finished second on San Diego in blocks, digs and kills.  She posted a match-high 17 kills in an NCAA Tournament win over Long Beach State. In her junior year, DeGroot led the team with 392 kills, earned MVP honors at both the Aztec Invitational and USD tournaments and was named WCC Player of the Week four times. In addition to being named an Honorable Mention All-America in 2008, DeGroot won San Diego Hall of Champions Amateur Player of the Year in 2008 and 2010.  After college, DeGroot continued to play competitive volleyball at the professional level in Puerto Rico in 2011.  Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, DeGroot attended high school in Montana where she won state player of the year honors in volleyball and basketball.