August 30, 2012

Defending Ivy Champs Face National Power Texas A&M In Opener Of Yale Classic

Bulldogs Meet American, Stony Brook Saturday

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The quest for a third straight Ivy League title begins this weekend for the Yale volleyball team.  The two-time defending Ivy League champion Bulldogs host two 2011 NCAA tournament teams -- Texas A&M and American University -- and up-start Stony Brook as part of the Yale Classic.    

After a 12-2 Ivy League season and a trip to the NCAAs, Yale returns eight from last season's conference championship team, including junior Kendall Polan, the Ivy League Player of the Year, and sophomore Mollie Rogers, who earned conference rookie of the year honors. Here's a breakdown of the team:

Seniors

Team captain and middle blocker Haley Wessels returns as the only senior on this year's team.  After earning second team All-Ivy honors in 2010, Wessels, ranked fourth in Ivy League conference matches with a .343 hitting percentage and was named to Ivy League Weekly Honor Roll twice in 2011.  

Juniors

Kendall Polan, a setter, was named AVCA Honorable Mention All-America and First Team All-Ivy after leading the Ivy League with 11.27 assists per set in 2011, while also ranking among the league's top 10 in service aces and digs in conference matches.  Outside hitter Erica Reetz earned Second Team All-Ivy honors after ranking ninth in kills per set in the conference last year, while also producing seven double-doubles (kills and digs).  Middle blocker McHaney Carter, named MVP of the Yale Classic last season, reached 10 or more kills five times and was named to the Ivy League Honor Roll twice in 2011.  

Sophomores

Outside hitter Mollie Rogers, First Team All-Ivy honors in addition to being named Rookie of the Year, ranked among the top 10 in several conference categories:  kills per set (5th), points per set (5th) and hitting percentage (7th). Outside hitter Allie Frappier was named Second Team All-Ivy after finishing second in the Ivy League with a 3.53 kills per set average and third in points per set (3.81) in conference matches.  Maddie Rudnick, a libero, led the team with a 4.63 digs per set average, totaled the sixth-highest single-season digs per set average in school history and ranked sixth in Ivy League conference matches with 5.00 digs per set average.  Outside hitter Gabby Bird-Vogel appeared in six matches last season and adds to the team's depth in the outside hitter position.  

Freshmen

For the fourth year in a row, the Yale volleyball team's incoming class of recruits has been recognized as one of the nation's best by PrepVolleyball.com. The class, featuring Jesse Ebner, Karlee Fuller, Kelly Johnson, Maya Midzik and Christine Wu, was selected for High Honorable Mention alongside such nationally ranked programs as Tennessee, Oregon and Dayton.  Ebner, a 6-0 middle, competed at a high level for many years as a member of Vision Volleyball Club and Sacred Heart Prep.  Fuller, a 6-0 outside hitter, will be the third Bulldog to hail from La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, Calif. Midzik, a middle, was named to the PreVolleyball.com High School All-America Special Mention Team in 2012. Wu, a libero, was a three-time Academic All-Conference selection for Naperville North High School.

This weekend's opponents:

  • Texas A&M - The Aggies return four starters plus the libero from last year's 23-8 team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.  Texas A&M went 2-1 last weekend to open their first season as a member of the SEC.  The Aggies defeated Texas State (3-0) and North Dakota (3-0), and lost to then-No.5 USC (1-3). Lindsey Miller, a middle blocker who received All-America honorable mention last year,  and Alisia Kastmo, an opposite who earned All-Big 12 first team honors, headline the returning class.  
  • Stony Brook - The Seawolves advanced to the America East finals last season and return eight letter winners from last year's team.  Junior middle blocker Evann Slaughter after earning All-America East second team honors last season, as well as sophomore libero Laura Hathaway who was named to the conference all-rookie team.  Stony Brook dropped two of three matches at the Black Knight Invitational last weekend.  The Seawolves lost to Indiana (1-3) and Army (2-3), and defeated Quinnipiac (3-0).
  • American - The Eagles captured their 10th Patriot League Championship in 11 years during the 2011 season, advancing to the NCAA Tournament and posting an overall record of 23-11 with a 13-1 mark in the Patriot League.  Sophomore Sara Rishell earned Patriot League Rookie and Player of the Year honors last season, and joined Juliana Crum on the conference's first team.  American split matches last weekend against Georgetown (0-3) and George Mason (3-0).

This weekend's schedule:

Fri., Aug. 31
American vs. Stony Brook, 5 p.m.
Texas A&M at Yale, 7 p.m.

Sat., Sept. 1 
Texas A&M vs. American, 11 a.m.
Stony Brook at Yale, 1 p.m.
Texas A&M vs. Stony Brook, 5 p.m.
American at Yale, 7 p.m.

Report filed by Ernie Bertothy

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