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Cornell, Columbia to Host Bulldogs This Weekend

Cornell, Columbia to Host Bulldogs This Weekend

Oct. 23, 2008

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - For the second consecutive weekend, the Yale volleyball team will challenge a team sitting atop the Ivy League standings. Cornell, sporting a 5-1 league record (6-10 overall), will host the Bulldogs on Friday night in Ithaca, N.Y. Yale will stay in the Empire State on Saturday for a 4 p.m. match in New York City at Columbia. The Bulldogs enter the weekend at 11-4 overall and currently hold a 5-1 Ivy mark that ties them with Big Red at the head of the Ivy League.

Yale looks to rebound from a five-set loss to Penn- a loss in which Yale had a match-point opportunity stifled by the Quakers. The Bulldogs have not dropped two consecutive Ivy League matches since 2006.

Senior setter Ally Mendenhall, the captain of the 2008 Bulldogs, has run a very effective offense thus far this season. She is currently third in the Ivy League in assists with 10.42 per set. The main attackers for the Bulldogs have been juniors Alexis Crusey and Cat Dailey. The pair rates second and third in the Ivy League in kills with 3.94 and 3.46 finishers per set respectively. Additionally, both are averaging over four kills per set in league contests.

Crusey, a 2007 first team All-Ivy selection, is also ranked eighth in the league in hitting percentage with a mark of .262. She has attempted at least 4.46 attacks per set more than every other player in the top ten. Crusey is also ninth in the league in digs per set with 3.25.

Dailey, who has led the Bulldogs with 4.56 kills per set over their last four matches, is also in the top ten in service aces with 0.27 per set, good for eighth in the league. Dailey, Crusey and Mendenhall have all previously been named Ivy League Player of the Week this season.

The Bulldog offense is fueled by solid defense, led by libero Kelly Ozurovich. The sophomore has propelled Yale with a team-best 4.09 digs per set. Crusey, Dailey and Mendenhall all contribute at least 2.87 digs to the Bulldogs' defensive effort.

Another important facet of the Yale's success has been dominance at the net. The Bulldogs have outblocked their opponent in nine of their 11 victories. Freshman Taylor Cramm heads the charge with 36 total blocks, and the squad's total of seven players with at least 14 blocks leads the Ivy League.

The Cornell attack is devoid of a single dominant presence, as Meagan Tatum's team-best 2.85 kills per set is the lowest among team leaders in the Ancient Eight. Rather, Big Red is effective as a multi-pronged attack, with seven different players averaging at least 1.32 kills per set. 2007 second team All-Ivy selection Emily Borman, now in her senior season as a middle blocker, has notched 2.48 kills per set and is hitting at a team-high rate of .368. Borman is the reigning Ivy League Player of the Week after amassing 42 kills on .466 hitting in three matches for Big Red last week. The offense is run through Hillary Holland, a senior who has distributed 9.62 assists per set this season.

Defense has been the name of the game for Cornell in 2008. As a team, the squad from Ithaca leads the Ivy League in both digs and blocks. 2007 All-Ivy first team libero Megan Mushovic has given the offense plenty of opportunities with an Ivy League leading 5.70 digs per set, which slots her fifth in the NCAA in that category. Five additional players have contributed at least one dig per set for Big Red. Freshman Kelly Hansen is leading the league in blocks with 1.29 per set, amassing one solo block and 79 block assists in 62 sets of work.

Against common opponents in 2008, Cornell and Yale have both defeated Harvard and Dartmouth. Cornell knocked off Penn and lost to Princeton at home earlier this season, while the Bulldogs did just the opposite last weekend. In the non-conference schedule, Cornell lost in four sets at both Long Island and Colgate. Yale swept Colgate at the John J. Lee Amphitheater last month and took out Long Island in straight sets on a neutral court as a part of the UAlbany Invitational.

The Bulldogs and Big Red split the season series in 2007, with each team picking up a win on its home court. Yale leads the all-time series by a slim 22-19 margin, though Cornell has held a slight edge during Head Coach Erin Appleman's tenure with a 6-5 series lead.

There will be no rest for the weary on Saturday afternoon, as the team will make the long trek from Ithaca to the heart of New York City to square off with Columbia. The Lions, who will host Brown on Friday, enter the weekend at 5-10 overall and 0-6 in the Ivy League. With its lone All-Ivy selection from 2007, honorable mention opposite Natalie Gerling, lost to graduation, the Columbia offense is led by senior Amalia Viti. Viti is currently the Ivy League leader with 4.11 kills per set. However, no other player on the roster is averaging greater than 1.47 kills per set.

Junior Alex Marchyshyn and freshman Marisa Cornejo have both seen action as setter this season, as the pair have doled out 6.41 and 6.16 assists per set respectively. Marchyshyn has been the primary setter as of late. Junior libero Ellie Thomas leads the Lions in digs with 3.62 per set. Columbia's blocking is fronted by freshman Monique Roberts and sophomore Sarah Thompson, who have each amassed 42 total blocks.

Columbia has been swept by Penn, Princeton and Harvard. They lost in four sets at Dartmouth and dropped a pair of matches to Cornell. The lone common non-conference opponent between the Bulldogs and Lions is Long Island, who swept Columbia in the first weekend of October.

Yale leads the all-time series 31-3, and has won the last 12 meetings dating back to the 2001 campaign. Coach Appleman is a perfect 10-0 against Columbia in her Yale career.

Looking ahead to next week, the Bulldogs will stay on the road for a pair of Ivy League contests. The squad will spend Halloween night at Harvard for a 7 p.m. match. The next afternoon, Yale treks to Hanover, N.H. for a 4 p.m. contest against Dartmouth.

Yale Volleyball main page

Cornell Volleyball main page
Live Stats for Yale at Cornell (Friday, 7 p.m.)

Columbia Volleyball main page
Live Stats for Yale at Columbia (Saturday, 4 p.m.)

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity