Despite 3-1 Loss, Yale Gives Northwestern All It Can Handle

Maddie Rudnick. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Maddie Rudnick. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Wessels, Ebner Named to All-Tournament Team

NEW HAVEN -- Yale out-blocked and out-hit Northwestern, but it wasn't enough to knock off the Wildcats on Saturday night in the final match of the Yale Invitational.

After splitting the first two sets, Northwestern (8-0) came up with big plays late in the final two to take the match.  The scores were 25-23, 18-25, 25-22 and 26-24.  

"We played high-level volleyball tonight," Yale head coach Erin Appleman said.  "The match was full of great defense, good blocking and smart attacking."

Mollie Rogers led Yale with 15 kills, while team captain Haley Wessels hit .722 with 13 kills.  Freshman Jesse Ebner reached double-digits for the second straight night with 13 kills.

Ebner and Wessels were named to the Yale Invitational All-Tournament Team.   

As a team, Yale dominated the net with a 22-9 edge in blocks, and out-hit the Wildcats .240 to .176. 

"We took some of their best swings and held our own at the net," Appleman said. 

Stephanie Holthus led Northwestern and was named tournament MVP.  Holthus posted a match-high 20 kills, including seven in the final set, and added 15 digs. 

Yale kept up with undefeated Northwestern of the Big 10, one of the nation's premier volleyball conferences.  

After falling behind 24-14 in the first set, the Bulldogs scored the next nine points.  Three straight Northwestern errors started the rally, then kills by Maya Midzik, Rogers and Kendall Polan pulled Yale within four. 

After an attack error, Wessels reduced the deficit to two.  Another attack error made it 24-23 before Monica McGreal ended the set for Northwestern.

Yale bounced back to win the second set.  The Bulldogs opened with a 12-6 lead, which included back-to-back kills from Wessels and Ebner to force a Northwestern timeout.  

Later in the set, Katie Dutchman, who earned all-tournament honors, cut the Yale lead to 19-16.  Wessels responded with a solo block and Ebner blasted a cross-court kill at the net to put the lead back to five.  

Polan closed out the set with a kill, then kept the final point alive for the Bulldogs with a running dig.  Yale had five different players with at least 12 digs -- Maddie Rudnick (22), Rogers (18), Polan (13), Kelly Johnson (13) and Erica Reetz (12). 

Northwestern closed out the third set after Yale made a late comeback.  Down 22-19, Rogers blasted a kill and the Wildcats followed with an attack error.  

Holthus delivered a kill to put the lead back to two -- a lead the Wildcats would not give up. 

The fourth set featured 10 ties and a Yale lead at 22-20 following two straight Northwestern attack errors.  

Holthus kickstarted another rally with two straight kills to tie the match at 22.  The teams traded the next four points before Dutchman gave the Wildcats the lead at 25-24. 

The match ended on a service ace from Holthus.

The Bulldogs return to action next weekend at the San Diego Invitational that begins on Friday evening. 

2012 Yale Invitational All-Tournament Team
MVP - Stephanie Holthus, Northwestern
Jesse Ebner, Yale
Haley Wessels, Yale
Monica McGreal, Northwestern
Katie Dutchman, Northwestern
Carly Edwards, Villanova
Taylor Bantle, Brown
Report filed by Ernie Bertothy, Yale Sports Publicity