Sporting Life

Fall sports highlights: 2014

Volleyball wins a fifth straight Ivy title; excitement but disappointment at The Game.

Evan Frondorf ’14 is an Olympics research assistant at NBC.


ESPN College GameDay analyst Lee Corso broke with conventional wisdom and boldly predicted a Yale win in the 131st edition of The Game on November 22. Handsome Dan XVII joined him on the stage built on Harvard’s Dillon Quad, licking the face of analyst Kirk Herbstreit and wreaking good-natured havoc.

The madcap scene was the just the beginning of an entertaining day in Boston. In the end, the nationally televised vote of confidence couldn’t will the Bulldogs to victory, as Harvard eked out a 31–24 win in the final moments to take its eighth straight game in the series.

Yale was down by 17 points in the fourth quarter, but came back to tie the score at 24 with just 3:44 left, setting up a historic finish. Suddenly, Harvard Stadium was abuzz with nervous home fans and an energized Yale contingent. But a Harvard touchdown pass capped off a game-winning drive with just 55 seconds remaining, despite a valiant Yale effort during the final moments.

Unlike recent years, though, this Yale squad appeared more than capable of taking down the nearly perennial Ivy champion. That in itself is a sign of a successful season, not to mention the Elis’ 8–2 record, their best since 2007.

“Last time I sat here [at Harvard], we were 2–8. Today we were playing for a league championship,” Yale head coach Tony Reno said after the game. “This group has done an unbelievable job of moving Yale football back to where it belongs.”

Next year, the expectations will be greater, and winning The Game will become even more urgent. But the Bulldogs are back, and they keep getting better.


With two regular-season losses to Harvard, the Bulldog volleyball dynasty faced tougher conference competition than it had seen in years. But Yale’s most consistently successful team battled to a fifth consecutive Ivy League championship—and, with a playoff win in straight sets over the co-champion Crimson, a fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance.

In the tournament’s first round, the Bulldogs fell to a highly ranked Arizona team in straight sets, but there was still much to be proud of. “We went and beat Harvard on their home court, the day before The Game, to go to the NCAAs,” says captain Mollie Rogers ’15. “It was an awesome culmination of the season.”

The Yale women were without Kendall Polan ’14, who graduated last May as the most decorated player in Yale volleyball history. But Rogers, of San Diego, seamlessly filled the leadership role while amassing her own list of accolades, including four first-team All-Ivy selections. Despite her individual dominance on the court, she credits tradition for the team’s unbroken string of success, even as star players come and go. “Every single year, no matter who is the captain, we have the same set of rules passed down from generation to generation of Yale volleyball,” she says.

Rogers describes her squad as a “silly, funny team” that turns serious on the court, a vibe that hasn’t changed—like everything else on this team—during her collegiate career. “I actually think it’s kind of worked for us,” she says—laughing as she realizes her understatement. “So I think we should keep doing the same thing.”

If it all keeps adding up to a culture of championships, no one is likely to argue.

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