Sept. 18, 2008
After sweeping away the competition at the 2008 Yale Invitational last week, the Bulldogs will take the court against another trio of opponents this weekend at the Penn State Classic. Highlighting the event will be a match between the Bulldogs and the host Nittany Lions, the top-ranked team in the nation. The match marks the first time that Yale has played a No. 1 nationally-ranked opponent, as well as the first time the Bulldogs have faced the defending national champion.
Yale enters the weekend at 3-0 overall, having knocked off Boston College, Colgate and Hofstra in straight sets at last weekend's Yale Invitational. Junior Alexis Crusey earned Most Valuable Player honors at the event after racking up 35 kills (3.89 per set) with a .329 hitting percentage in the three game tournament. She also had 22 digs for a 2.44 digs per set average, and filled out her stat sheet by adding six assists, three service aces and three blocks.
Junior Cat Dailey and Senior Ally Mendenhall were named to the all-tournament team at the Yale Invitational for their efforts. Dailey, a transfer from the University of California, currently leads the Ivy League in kills with 4.33 per set and shares the team high in blocks per set with Kristen Wilk (1.00). Her four solo blocks is also a team best. Mendenhall, the captain of the 2008 Yale squad, leads the Bulldogs is assists with 11.11 per set and in digs per set with an average of 3.67.
Yale will challenge Penn State (9-0) on Friday night to kick off this weekend's event. The eventual national champions swept the Bulldogs 3-0 last year in the Yale Volleyball Classic. Both squads return seven players who saw action in that match. Penn State, winners of all five meetings between the two programs, was ranked No. 3 nationally at the time of last year's encounter with the Bulldogs. The Nittany Lions' roster is flanked by four 2007 AVCA All-Americans, including first team All-America honorees Nicole Fawcett, Christa Harmotto and Megan Hodge.
Also on tap for the weekend will be the Saint Louis Billikens (6-3), who were unranked but received votes in the most recent AVCA Division I Coaches Poll. The Billikens, 1-2 at the Utah Classic last weekend, shocked No. 3 Stanford earlier this season by a score of 3-1. Saint Louis, a first-time opponent for the Bulldogs, is led offensively by Bridget Fonke and Sammi McCloud, both of whom average 3.36 kills per set.
Yale will wrap up the Penn State Classic with a showdown against America East opponent New Hampshire. The Bulldogs are 4-0 against the Wildcats all-time, though the teams have not met since the 1996 season. New Hampshire, currently 2-8 on the season, posted a 1-2 record as hosts of the UNH Tournament this past weekend. The team is led by Kirsten Bates' 3.64 kills per set.
Looking ahead, the Bulldogs will compete in one more preseason tournament before entering Ivy League play. The squad will trek to Albany, N.Y. next weekend for matches against Albany, Dayton and Long Island at the Albany Invitational. The Ivy League slate begins at Brown on Oct. 3.
report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity