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Defense Sparks Season-Opening Win Over Albany

Kaitlyn Gibbons (Photo credit: Steve Musco)
Kaitlyn Gibbons (Photo credit: Steve Musco)

Gibbons, Steinberg Notch Career Highs in Victory

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The Bulldogs started the season with a sweep, and they did it with defense.  

Yale totaled 82 digs, its highest total for a three-set match in almost five years, and swept Albany on Friday night.  On Nov. 4, 2011, the Bulldogs had 86 digs in a 3-0 win over Penn.

The scores of tonight's match were 25-19, 25-20 and 28-26.  

"I was really proud of our effort tonight," Yale head coach Erin Appleman said.  "We played team-oriented Yale volleyball."

Brittani Steinberg began her senior year with a splash.  Steinberg went for a double-double, including 15 kills and a career-best 22 digs. 

Steinberg's night complemented the effort from junior Kaitlyn Gibbons, who went for a career-high 19 kills.  Gibbons also hit .567 and had seven digs.

Both Steinberg and Gibbons sparked the Bulldogs in the opening set.  They combined for 11 kills on 18 swings without an error, while Steinberg had 10 digs.

The defense also received a lift from sophomore Kate Swanson, who had 23 digs, including 10 in the third set.

Junior Kelsey Crawford, who entered tonight ninth all-time at Yale in assists, had 37 tonight. Sophomore Shreya Dixit started for the Bulldogs and added four kills.

It was also a night of firsts.  Freshman Tristin Kott (2 kills) picked up her first collegiate kills, while classmate Franny Arnautou had five assists. 

Kelly Wirth, a second team all-Ivy selection last year as a freshman, had 5 kills and seven assists.

It was the sixth time Yale beat Albany in the last seven years.  

The Bulldogs play two matches tomorrow in day two of the Yale Invitational. Yale hosts Iona at 10 a.m. and Rutgers at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Rutgers defeated Iona, 3-0, earlier tonight. 

Report filed by Ernie Bertothy, Yale Sports Publicity