Bulldogs Finished Ivy Season Undefeated, Earned NCAA Tournament Berth
NEW HAVEN -- Haley Wessels stood up at the podium and fought back her emotions.
Wessels, Yale's team captain and lone senior on the 2012 squad, addressed teammates, team coaches and staff, to reflect on the ups and downs, the pure joy and ultimate satisfaction of the Bulldogs' undefeated Ivy championship season.
"We showed a true commitment to the greater good of the team," said Wessels, a second team All-Ivy selection. "I'm so thankful to have such great teammates and to be able to end my career on such a high note."
Wessels' poignant words summed up the scene as the Bulldogs held their annual year-end team banquet recently to celebrate the program's third straight Ivy League championship. Each team member was honored by coaches and received their 2012 Ivy League championship ring at the event.
Yale finished the 2012 season 14-0 in the Ivy League and became only the second team in conference history to accomplish the feat. Yale also completed the best four-year run in program history with a 49-7 mark in Ivy League play.
"We set such a high standard for our program," said Erin Appleman, who has led the Bulldogs to five conference titles in 10 seasons. "And I'm so proud of this team, and Yale Volleyball, for what we've been able to accomplish."
The banquet allowed coaches and players to reminisce about moments from last season in a formal setting. An 10-minute video, produced by associate head coach Kevin Laseau, was played to show many standout moments - on and off the court - from the historic season.
Yale completed the Ivy League season with a five-game lead in the standings, the largest ever for an conference champion. The Bulldogs won 15 straight matches going into their NCAA Tournament appearance.
As a team, the Bulldogs led the conference in team hitting percentage, opponent hitting percentage, assists per set, kills per set and service aces per set. Yale also finished second in the nation in digs per set, fourth in kills per set and 10th in assists per set.
Yale's individual honors were also recognized at the event. Kendall Polan earned her second straight Ivy League Player of the Year honor. Polan was also presented with the team's MVP award at the celebration.
Kelly Johnson was honored as Yale's third straight conference rookie of the year honor. Polan was also named AVCA All-America Honor Mention, Northeast All-Region, while Johnson was named AVCA Northeast All-Region Honorable Mention.
Five Bulldogs earned All-Ivy status. Polan and Johnson, who combined for over 1,000 assists, joined teammate Mollie Rogers on the All-Ivy First Team. Wessels and Maddie Rudnick were named All-Ivy Second Team selections.
Report filed by Ernie Bertothy, Yale Sports Publicity