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Bulldogs Set to Make Seventh NCAA Appearance; Face Syracuse This Friday

Frances Arnautou.
Frances Arnautou.

2018 NCAA Tournament 

First Round - University Park, Pa.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Match to be played at Rec Hall

Yale vs. Syracuse, 5 p.m. (Eastern Time)  

Live Video (BTN2Go) | Live Stats | Post-Match Press Conference 

The two first-round winners will play at 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 1.   

Additional Links:

Yale Game Notes

Tournament Central (First and Second Rounds at Penn State)

2018 Tournament Bracket

Tournament Breakdown (NCAA.com)

Follow the Bulldogs This Weekend

Fans can follow the Bulldogs on social media throughout their tournament experience:

Yale Volleyball Facebook

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Yale Athletics Twitter

Game Notes

TODAY'S MATCHUP

The Bulldogs on Friday will face Syracuse (18-8, 14-4 ACC) of the Atlantic Coast Conference in a first-round NCAA Tournament match.  The winner of the match will face the Penn State-Howard winner on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. in University Park, Pa.  Friday marks the fourth all-time meeting between Yale and Syracuse, and the Orange lead the series 3-0.  While Yale is making its seventh all-time NCAA appearance, the Orange are one of six programs this year to make their first appearance in the tournament along with Bryant, Eastern Michigan, Florida Gulf Coast, South Dakota and Navy.

SCOUTING THE WEEKEND

Yale and Syracuse also join Howard and host Penn State to round out the regional bracket this weekend.  Penn State and Howard will play in the second match on Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. The two schools met in the NCAA First Round last season, with Penn State winning 3-1.

Syracuse (18-8) finished fourth this season in the ACC with a 14-4 conference record, matching the programs best finish from 2015. Three Syracuse volleyball players are All-ACC honorees, headlined by 2018 Freshman of the Year Polina Shemanova. Senior Sanita Ebangwese joins Shemanova on the All-ACC First Team, while senior Amber Witherspoon earned a spot on the All-ACC Second Team.

Howard University won its fourth consecutive Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) volleyball championship last Sunday. The Bison (20-10) has won four straight and 15 of its last 17. Howard boasts the MEAC Player of the Year in setter Tamia Dockery, MEAC Championship Outstanding Performer in outside hitter Kira Porter and Coach of the Year in Shaun Kupferberg. 

Penn State, the No. 8 national seed in the tournament, is ranked No. 7 in the latest AVCA National Coaches' Poll and is one of seven Big Ten schools in this year's tournament. Penn State (23-7) has won seven national titles in its program history and has been to all 38 NCAA Women's Volleyball tournaments.  Last weekend, Penn State defeated No. 3 Minnesota, lost a five-setter to No. 8 Wisconsin and finished fifth in the Big 10 with a 14-6 conference mark.

YALE IN NCAAs

This weekend marks Yale's seventh appearance in the women's volleyball NCAA Tournament.  The Bulldogs are the only Ivy League program with more than one tournament match victory with an overall mark of 2-6.  In 2004, Yale became the first Ivy League squad to win an NCAA Tournament match with a 3-1 first-round win over Albany in New Haven, Conn.  Four years later, the Bulldogs defeated Ohio in the first round at State College, Pa.  Yale's last appearance came in 2014 when the Bulldogs dropped a 3-0 decision to host Arizona in Tucson.  This season, the Bulldogs faced three schools that qualified for the Big Dance:  Alabama State, Central Florida and Florida Gulf Coast.

WINNING TRADITION

Yale enters the week on an 11-match win streak with a 19-4 overall record and a 13-1 finish in Ivy League play to capture its ninth conference title in the last 15 years.  The championship marked the 10th conference title in program history.  In 2014, the Bulldogs went on to set a conference record with their fifth straight Ivy League title.  Yale has finished in first or second place in each of the last 15 Ivy League seasons, and have won at least 10 conference matches in all but one of those years.

BULLDOGS SWEEP MAJOR IVY AWARDS

The Bulldogs swept the major 2018 Ivy League volleyball awards.  Five different Bulldogs were honored and head coach Erin Appleman was named coach of the year.  Junior setter Frances Arnautou was named Ivy League Player of the Year, senior team captain Kate Swanson was selected defensive player of the year, first-year outside hitter Ellis DeJardin was named as the league's top rookie. In addition, senior right side Kelley Wirth was named All-Ivy First Team along with Arnautou, Swanson and DeJardin, and first-year middle blocker Samantha Bray was named All-Ivy Second Team.  Arnautou and Swanson were unanimous first team selections.

HEAD COACH ERIN APPLEMAN

In 16 seasons as the leader of the Yale volleyball program, Erin Appleman has taken the Bulldogs to new heights and established herself as one of the most accomplished volleyball coaches in Ivy League history.  Appleman has guided the Bulldogs to a record-setting five straight Ivy League championships and nine total conference titles (2004, 2008, 2010-2014, 2017-2018), seven NCAA Tournament appearances (2004, 2008, 2011-2014, 2018), four 20-plus win seasons (2005, 2008, 2009, 2013) and become the first coach in conference history to win an NCAA match -- a feat she has accomplished twice (2004 and 2008). Appleman earned AVCA Regional Coach of the Year following the 2004 season.  At the helm of the Bulldogs, Appleman has produced the best winning percentage -- .728 -- in program history with an overall record of 289-109 entering this weekend.  A national champion prior to arriving at Yale, Appleman spent eight years as an assistant at Penn State.  Appleman assisted legendary head coach Russ Rose and helped lead the Nittany Lions to the 1999 National Championship and five championship weekends.

NATIONAL LEADERS

The Bulldogs enter the week ranked eighth in the nation in opponent's hitting percentage (.153).

IVY LEADERS

The Bulldogs in conference play led the Ivy League in four major statistical average categories:  Blocks (2.87), service aces (1.46), digs (16,57) and opponent's hitting percentage (.147).

TEAM CAPTAIN KATE SWANSON

Kate Swanson, this year's team captain, has been named Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 and 2018. Last year, she was also named AVCA All-East Region Honorable Mention.  She has earned All-Ivy First Team twice and also had a second-team nod in her four years as a Bulldog.  Entering the NCAA Tournament, she has 386 total digs (currently 9th highest single-season total in Yale Volleyball program history) and owns the fifth-highest single-season average in digs per set (4.95).

BULLDOG GREAT MINYARD '10 RETURNS

Former Yale volleyball standout and Ivy League Player of the Year Cat Dailey Minyard '10, who helped lead the program to a conference title and went on to play professionally, is back with the Bulldogs as a volunteer assistant coach. Minyard transferred to Yale in 2008 after two seasons at Cal-Berkeley and went on to earn All-Ivy First Team honors her two years with the Bulldogs.  In 2008, she was named an AVCA All-Northeast Region Honorable Mention in addition to being named unanimous league player of the year to begin a stretch of six conference titles in a seven-year span for the Bulldogs.

BALANCED ATTACK

The Bulldogs have four student-athletes averaging over two kills per set -- Kelley Wirth (3.06), Ellis DeJardin (2.95), Samantha Bray (2.33) and Kathryn Attar (2.20).

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE

Since the start of the 2013 season, the Bulldogs' home record is 54-9 overall and 39-4 against Ivy League teams.  Yale was 10-0 in 2018 at home.

Report filed by Ernie Bertothy, Yale Sports Publicity