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First Place on the Line This Weekend

First Place on the Line This Weekend

As each week grows more important, the Bulldogs look to maintain their grip on first place in the conference and extend their road win streak in the Ivy League with matches at Princeton and Penn.  

Yale enters the weekend 7-1 in Ivy League, 13-4 overall and hold a slim lead over Princeton and Harvard, who are both 6-2 in the conference.  Yale plays at Princeton on Friday at 7 p.m., and travel to Penn on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Sole possession of first place will be on the line Friday evening in Princeton when the Bulldogs face the Tigers.  Earlier this season, Princeton delivered to Yale its only loss in league play with a 3-1 win in New Haven on Sept. 30.  

That night, Princeton's Jessie Harris stuffed the stat sheet on both sides of the net.  She had five kills without an error, 49 assists and 14 digs as Princeton came from behind to win three straight sets.  Kelley Wirth led the Bulldogs with 15 kills against the Tigers. 

The loss to Princeton seems like a distant memory.  Yale has won five straight, including impressive road wins at Harvard and Dartmouth two weeks ago, and a win in Providence over Brown last weekend.  

For the third time this season, a Bulldog captured the league's weekly rookie of the week award.  

First-year Yurika Boyd earned the top rookie weekly award after posting 27 digs -- the fourth highest-total in a four-set Ivy match -- to help pace Yale.  Boyd continues to give Yale a lift off the bench and ranks fifth in the Ivy League in service aces per set. 

Sophomore teammate Izzy Simqu had an impressive match at the net with a career-high 10 blocks for the Bulldogs, who set a team season-high 14 total blocks in the match.  Simqu ranks among the league leaders in blocks (third) and hitting percentage (sixth), while averaging nearly two kills per set in conference matches.  

During the five-win streak, the Bulldogs have not had the same student-athlete lead in kills for consecutive matches.  

Wirth, Kathryn Attar and Tristin Kott have all taken turns to put up team-high numbers.  What's more, Wirth continues to lead the team with a 3.21 kills per set average and has not lead the team in kills in any of the last four victories -- a sign of Yale's depth.  

Kott enters the week ranked third in the conference with a .367 hitting percentage with a 2.64 kills per set in Ivy League matches. 

Scouting the Opponents

Princeton (6-2, 13-5) -- After dropping road matches to Cornell and Columbia, the Tigers got back on the winning track against Penn last weekend.  Princeton leads the Ivy League in kills per set and has three student-athletes (Natasha Skov, Maggie O'Connell and Devon Peterkin) among the league's top 10.  Skov led the team with 16 kills in the match earlier this season in New Haven.

Penn (3-5, 8-9) - The Quakers have gone 3-3 in league play since the loss at Yale earlier this season.  Parker Jones is second in the conference in points per set, third in the conference in kills per set, and had a team-high 12 kills against Yale on Sept. 29. 

Bulldog Notes:

  • Over the last four-plus seasons, the Bulldogs are 43-7 overall in New Haven and 31-2 against Ivy League teams at home.
  • Yale has won five Ivy League championships in the last seven years, and seven of the last 13.
  • Kathryn Attar earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week on Oct. 9. for the second straight week.  
  • In the win over Penn on  Sept. 29, the Bulldogs set a season-high with 64 kills, led by Kathryn Attar who set a season-high mark with 19 kills in one match.
  • Junior Kate Swanson leads the conference in Ivy League-only matches with a 5.12 digs per set average.  For the entire season, she leads the Bulldogs with a 4.06 average.  
  • Team captain Kelsey Crawford surpassed the 2,000 assist mark for her Yale career on Sept. 22 against Brown.  Crawford now has 2,135 assists and ranks ninth all time in program history.
  • Several Bulldogs in the junior class are reaching lofty career totals in several statistical categories.  Kate Swanson (948 digs), Franny Arnautou (918 assists) and Kelley Wirth (630 kills).
  • Junior Kelley Wirth entered the week ranked among the leaders in the Ivy League in kills per set (7th) and points per set (8th).
  • Simqu is having a breakout season for the Bulldogs.  Simqu ranks first on the team in total blocks (58) and third on the team in points per set (2.83) while hitting .361 over her 194 attacks. 
  • The Bulldogs finished their non-conference schedule with a 6-3 mark, with two of the losses coming to ranked teams  (No. 2 Penn State and then-No. 18 USC).  Over the last three years, the Bulldogs are 18-9 against teams outside the Ivy League.
  • First-year student-athletes Kathryn Attar and Destiny Daniel are off to standout starts.  Attar is averaging 2.86 points per set, and over two kills (2.40) and digs (2.44) per set. Daniel is averaging 1.50 kills per set.  Daniel has gone for six blocks in a match twice -- the highest total for a Bulldog this season.
  • Four Bulldogs are averaging over two digs per set, led by Kate Swanson who leads the team at a 4.06 clip.  Kathryn Attar is averaging 2.44, Gray Malias is at 2.12 and Franny Arnautou is averaging 2.04.  
  • Yale has defeated a Power 5 opponent in each of the past three seasons, including two this year.  Yale beat Clemson in New Haven on September 2, and swept Wake Forest on September 16 in University Park, Pa.
  • Yale head coach Erin Appleman is in her 15th season at the helm of the Bulldogs.  She has a career record of 267-100.  In her time at Yale, the Bulldogs own the best conference record against other Ivy League volleyball programs -- 164-40. 

Report filed by Ernie Bertothy, Yale Sports Publicity