The old Harvard women's volleyball team would have been trounced by Eastern Nazarene College, 15-3, 15-2, because that's just what happened two weeks ago.
But, the new and improved Crimson spikers turned the tables on the same ENC squad--and did some whitewashing of its own--three games to none--yesterday in Quincy. The win brought the spikers' record back to the 500 mark, giving Harvard a 10-10 record.
"This time we played well against them." Harvard Coach Karya Altman said after the victory. "The last time we played just terribly. Everything was different this time around."
That's not to say that Harvard played without errors for the entire match. In several instances, momentum swung in favor of ENC as a direct result of unforced Crimson flaws. In particular, the second game--which Harvard eventually won 15-10--saw an 11-3 Crimson advantage dwindle to a virtual dead-lock, 11-10. During that period, a series of missed blocks, serves and spikes characterized Harvard's performance.
Two weeks ago, the spikers would have been unable to halt the decline typified in the second contest. Yesterday, however, the team was able to regroup not only to win that game, but to play some of the finest volleyball exhibited the entire season.
For most of the match's third game--15-8, Harvard--the Crimson played impeccably. Its middle blockers and strong hitters read ENC spikes, enabling the Crimson to execute blocks successfully. Freshmen Anna Collins and Linda Lockhard placed their bullets with consistent precision in the backcourt corners. The back row scrambled and scooped to make contact with the balls instead of letting them hit the ground. Very few ENC points were unearned in the third game.
Most notably, in that contest, Harvard managed to capture six straight points--with freshman Ann Diamond serving--without a nation. In the past, Harvard hasn't put together streaks of that nature with regularity.
Harvard's encouraging performance yesterday comes right on the tail of a disappointing--but very well played--five set loss to MIT, one of the finest learns in the East. Also, last Saturday, the Crimson placed second in a UNH sponsored tournament.
Altman credits the team's newfound consistency with a more well-rounded hitting attack. "Before, the hitters only had one cross court shot. Now, we have a variety of offensive shots. A team has more trouble predicting what we're going to do."
Harvard attempts to continue solidifying its game when the spikers travel to Providence to compete in a tournament at Brown this afternoon.