By David F.P. [Modest Image Gallery] (Statistics Source: Yale Athletics)
NEW HAVEN, CT- The Quakers of Penn came up from Philly to take on Yale in New Haven, but the Bulldogs dispatched them in three straight sets, although closely fought sets they were. The two teams basically fought point for point in set 1 up until the very end of the set where the blue and white broke out of a 24-24 tie with two quick points to win 26-24. In set 2, Penn pulled out to an 18-12 lead which was a strong position to be in, but Yale responded with 12 straight points to erase the deficit and build a strong lead of their own. It looked as if Yale libero Maddie Rudnick was going to serve the rest of the set after she stepped in at the 13 point mark, however one Penn point intervened, though Yale took the set on an errant Quaker attack following that 25-19. Following intermission, the Bulldogs took a 10 to 5 lead only to have Penn pull right back to a 15-15 tie. Yale however responded with another long run scoring 8 straight points and being on the verge of victory. Penn held them off with two more points, but another Penn attack out of play ended the set and match 25-17.
Penn’s offense included Alex Caldwell’s 8 kills, Lauren Martin’s 7, Emma White’s 6, and Kristen Etterbeek’s 6. Libero Dani Shepherd had the team’s lone service ace of the game. Susan Stuecheli had a solo block and took part in two others. Shepherd had 16 digs, Etterbeek, White and Caldwell had 12.
Ronnie Bither had 14 assists and Caldwell 13.
Yale’s offense included Erica Reetz’s 10 kills. Mollie Rogers and Kelly Johnson each had 9, and Kendall Polan and Jesse Ebner had 6. Polan had 23 assists and Johnson 11. Rudnick and Polan each had 16 digs. Rudnick had the team’s lone service ace. McHaney Carter had 3 solo blocks and one shared block. Johnson took part in 4 blocks including one solo.
In set 1 Yale got points in a variety of ways from a variety of people as many a player had kills including when Polan crushed an attack down the line to tie things late. Halley Wessels had her only kill of the night when she blasted a Penn overpass into the Quaker back court to punctuate that. Later Johnson ricocheted a kill off two defenders, and Reetz used a light hit through the blocking line to put Yale within 1. Penn’s White and Martin were dangerous early with hard and light kills. It was White who tied the set up at 24 when she sent a cross court kill into a back corner, though Yale would pick up the set win right after.
In set 2, the two teams engaged in n amazing back and forth earth only. Penn was on the attack, and Yale was desperately keeping the ball moving with a variety of saves. Usually desperation moves work once, or not at all in volleyball matches, but Yale kept things alive again and again, every time it looked like the ball was about to drop a Bulldog would jump in hit over the net. This continued over and over until Rogers spiked the ball off a redshirt and far out of bounds, as the crowd exploded.
Yale was trailing Penn for awhile in the set, but Johnson had several kills, and Polan executed a spinning spike to great effect prior to sharing a block with Ebner. She sent another kill off the blockers later in the set, and Rogers had sent a ball of a defender’s dig and too the floor. After Rudnick stepped in to serve, it was Ebner who had the first kill of the run, she later shared a block with Johnson who then two points later hurricaned a kill off a defender and high and far over the scorer’s table. Reetz had two huge kills including one that landed in the back court and the defense missed. Rudnick later added her ace to add insult to the great injury of the scoring run.
For Penn, White and Martin had more points, including Martin crushing a kill off two defenders. She later would have the last Penn point before Yale’s decisive scoring run. It was Etterbeek that broke that run with a spike that sent the ball racing cross court.
In set 3, Yale’s Polan had a dramatic save when she basically was rolling to keep a ball in play eventually resulting in Rogers picking up a point. She, Johnson and Carter each had tremendous spikes early on. Rogers started the big Yale run crushing an attack which ended up flying into the side bleachers at high speed. A couple points later Carter used a precision kill diverting the ball to a place Penn wasn’t. Reetz scored yet again, and several plays later Rogers had a defensive save when dug the ball while basically teetering over her team’s seats out of bounds. Johnson and Carter made this worth it when they blocked a Penn attack. Carter would have a solo block later in the set to put the team within 1 of victory.
Penn didn’t score as often though Caldwell had a kill as did Amanda Pacheco. Martin and Stuecheli shared a block during Penn’s come back. Stuecheli and Caldwell also picked up kills to narrow the gap and Caldwell used two lighter attacks strategically first to get over a block, and later to get the ball into a gap where no Yale player could reach it. Etterbeek tied the set with a blast as well. During the fight to keep alive White had one of the hardest kills of the match when the ball bounced off a defender and sailed into the second level of seats above the bleachers. Pacheco would pounce on an errant Yale pass, but that the last of the good news.
Erin Appleman’s Yale contingent remains undefeated in the Ivy League with a 7-0 record (11-5 overall). Kerry Carr’s Penn squad drops to 4-3 in conference and 9-9 total.