By David F.P. (Statistics Source: Yale Athletics)
Editor’s Note: Arrived late due to storm preparations. [Modest Image Gallery]
NEW HAVEN, CT- The Yale Bulldogs were undefeated in the Ivy League entering Friday, with 6 games left to see if they could stay undefeated in conference play. Columbia, currently 5th in the conference was the latest challenger to the streak. After 1 set Yale was up 1-0, but the Lions from the tip of Manhattan Island took set 2 25-21 fending off a late challenge from the Bulldogs to hold onto a lead.
With the match even at 1 set a piece, Set 3 was a very close one despite Columbia pulling ahead to an 11 to 5 lead but Yale fought back. The run began for Yale with Mollie Rogers sending a kill to the back of the defensive zone, her teammate Kelly Johnson saw an errant Columbia pass come her way over the net and smacked it back, and followed that with another kill. The Lions interrupted things to get their score to 14, but Johnson and Ebner’s block bounced off a defender to the floor, and Johnson struck twice more including a hard smash to tie it as the exclamation point.
Columbia answered immediately as Megan Gaughn teed up an attack which hit multiple Bulldogs, but they could not set up the return. The two sides traded a point each before Gaughn slashed the ball through the defenders, and her teammate Caitlin Brenton struck the ball down to extend the lead to 3 again. Yale’s Erica Reetz swatted her attack off the blocking line. Fellow Bulldog Kendall Polan followed this by turning to place a slower but well placed kill to the back corner of the visitor’s zone. The blue and white ceded the momentum with a serve into the net, but Rogers rapped the ball in and the defense’s dig sent the ball too low and out of play. Columbia went back up 2 thanks to their opponent’s serving out of bounds, plus Atlanta Moye-McLaren served over the net only to see the ball ricochet off players and to no avail for a service ace. Yale called time out to regroup. When play resumed the dangerous Gaughn used a lighter touch to send the ball into a back corner where no one was putting the score at 22-18 Columbia.
Rogers stopped the bleeding immediately with a block, and on the ensuing play Polan set the ball to Johnson who whacked the kill off the front blockers to the floor. Another Yale point followed and the Lions called time. Play resumed but a double hit error on Columbia tied the score at 22. Denise Dearman also positioned the ball in a corner after the defense had been drawn away, but Rogers evened the score again thanks to a kill.
The score was tied at 23 when a long exchange of volleys ensued getting more intense as each side didn’t want to give back and forth it went, but Haley Wessels stopped it with a block bouncing the ball off a defender awkwardly to the floor. Gaughn however launched a blast off a Yale blocker and it flew sideways out of play quickly to stop the momentum. The accomplishment was short lived as Kelly Johnson whammed an attack, it hit the defender’s hands and popped off to the floor. Maddie Rudnick then stepped up to serve and the ball hit a Lion then careened off a second, and then a third who tried to save it to no avail and the set was Yale’s 26-24.
The Bulldogs now had a 2 to 1 advantage and put Columbia away in set 4. A 6-2 lead became a 12 to 5 lead. Reetz had three of the first four kills of the game, sending attacks off blockers, through blockers, and a cross court missile that skimmed a defender’s hands on the way into the bleachers. Polan and Johnson kept up their scoring ways multiple times, and Ebner set the ball to a small piece of the front defensive zone. Wessels shared a block and also placed a ball into a corner as well. Columbia’s Katarina Jovicic, Moye-McLaren, and Dearman had the few kills for their side.
The Lions climbed back to 24-19, though Yale kept ahead of them throughout. Lucy Tilton, Moye-McLaren, Alex Reale, and Dearman all played a role, and Gaughn got back in on the scoring late with three kills in short order. Even later she would hammer the ball into mid court, and Jovicic and Reale shared a block. During this time Yale moved towards victory including when Johnson set Ebner the ball and she unleashed a missile through the opposing zone. Wessels, had a critical role with 3 kills late of varying speeds and velocities at long and short ranges, and then shared a block with Johnson. Johnson in turn followed that up two points later thwacking her attack right off a Lion at close range who hit it into the antenna. As Columbia tried to hold off elimination it was Rogers that kept breaking their scoring momentum with spikes. A Lion miscue put the score at 24-18 Yale, but Yale hit the ball into the net at match point. Columbia’s next serve flew slightly out of bounds and as it hit outside the line the Bulldogs celebrated.
Statistically, Yale’s Johnson had 13 kills. Mollie Rogers and Haley Wessels had 12, Erica Reetz 10, Kendall Polan 6, and Jesse Ebner and McHaney Carter each had 3. Wessels posted a .524% kill percentage, and Johnson had a .312 percentage. Polan had 35 assists on the evening and Johnson 17. Rogers had 2 service aces, while Polan ad Rudnick had the other two. Rudnick had 25 digs though Rogers and Reetz had 17 and 15 respectively.
Wessels participated in 9 blocks, 4 were solo as well. Polan had 2 on her own and two with others.
For Columbia Megan Gaughn had a team high 22 kills as well as a .219 kill percentage. Denise Dearman had 10 kills and a .381 kill percentage. Atlanta Moye-McLaren had 7 kills among team leaders and she also had the team’s lone service ace of the night. Colleen Brennan set up 34 assists, the libero Charlee Dyroff had 23 digs, and Moye-McLaren had 21. Caitlin Brenton took part in 5 blocks, Dearman had 2 solos and took part in 3 others, as the team had 14 during the match.
Yale is now 13-5 overall but 9-0 in conference. Columbia dropped to 9-9 and 4-5 in conference despite a strong effort.