It can be tough to play an opponent you totally outclass. The Harvard men's volleyball team proved that yesterday, defeating UMass three games to none with scores of 15-4, 15-11, 16-4, but rarely displaying the brilliant play it is capable of.
After Friday's crucial victory over Springfield that clinched second place in the Eastern Collegiate Volleyball League, the Spikers were due for a letdown. Senior co-captain Terry Trumbull, benched with an injury, predicted as much prior to the game. "After Springfield, it might be hard to get up for an adversary as weak as UMass. The guys might be a little too relaxed tonight," he said.
At first, it appeared as though the spikers were bent on proving Trumbull wrong. They took the first five points, forcing UMass captain Pat Ryan to call a time-out. It was to little avail as the spikers finished the first game with a 15-4 score displaying an awesome serving prowess.
After Crimson jumped to a quick 7-1 lead in the second game, lethargy set in, as the team let UMass score six unanswered points, prompting one spectator to comment that the spikers "must have taken sleeping pills" between games. But, the Crimson held on and took the game 15-11, behind the strong play of freshman Jon Tanaka and junior Dave Coatsworth.
In all fairness, it must be said that Crimson coach Roger Martin removed most of his starters after the first game. Still, this was little excuse for the mediocre play that marred the final game. Up 13-6, the spikers passively watched UMass come back and take the lead 14-13. A great spike by senior Rich Rohan regained serve for the Crimson, who then managed to seal the victory with two unreturnable serves.
"There is no question that they are better than us," UMass Ryan said after the game. "They just keep on improving," he added.
With yesterday's victory, the spikers improved their record to 13 and 4. They enter the Ivies seeded second behind Cornell, with whom they split their season series one game apiece.
"We are in good shape for the tournament," Martin said. "It should be between Cornell, Princeton and ourselves," he added.
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