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Yale Makes It Difficult for No. 8 Stanford at the Pentagon

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

Bulldogs Led for Most of Second Set

Arlington, Va. -- In an inspiring place, the Bulldogs played inspired volleyball against No. 8 Stanford in a hard-fought 3-0 loss.

The scores of the match were 25-17, 25-20 and 25-18.  And the Bulldogs would make the team ranked No. 2 in the nation last week work for every point inside the Pentagon.

No cameras are allowed to be used, but those able to view the match saw intense action, long rallies and high-level volleyball.   Despite the end result, Yale put on an energized effort before family, friends and military personnel.  

After a first set victory for Stanford, Yale came alive.  After dropping the first point, the Bulldogs (2-2) scored the next three that included a Maddie Rudnick ace and a Jesse Ebner kill.

That series set the tone for the rest of the set, which Yale led for most of the time.  

Brittani Steinberg finished off a long rally that was kept alive by a sprawling, one-handed dig from Kendall Polan to give Yale a 14-11 lead.  The Bulldogs kept it going on the next point with block assists from Ebner and Steinberg - and forced a Stanford timeout.  

Polan gave Yale its biggest lead - 16-11 - after an ace.  Stanford scored the next four points before a service error made it 17-15 Yale. 

The Cardinal (4-2) used another quick 5-1 run to take a 20-18 edge.  Kelly Johnson responded with a kill to cut the deficit back to one, and that would be the closest Yale would get. 

Stanford's Carly Wopat, a first-team All-American last season, combined on a block with fellow All-Pac 12 honoree Inky Ajanaku to give Stanford a 10-6 lead in the third set.  Showing more fight, Yale scored the next three points with kills from Mollie Rogers and Steinberg and an error.

Maya Midzik recorded her first kill of the weekend for Yale after two straight Stanford points to make it 12-10. The Cardinal used five kills to score six of the next eight points and take an 18-12 advantage. 

Yale played almost even the rest of the way with two kills each from Steinberg and Johnson, and points from Ebner and Midzik.

Steinberg finished with a team-high 10 kills.  

The Pentagon Athletic Center provided a unique setting for the match that allowed only players, coaches, staff and family members, along with Armed Services members to take in the action.  

With a volleyball court setup on a multi-purpose floor below an elevated running track, there was no public address system and no music.  Several rows of seats lined one side of the court, while the other side had the benches and scorer's table.   

Yale returns to action later today against Air Force.  The match starts at 6 p.m.  

Report filed by Ernie Bertothy, Yale Sports Publicity