It seemed impossible for the Harvard women's volleyball team to improve. The last two times on the court, the Crimson notched easy victories.
But the spikers did themselves one better last night, scoring on a pair of triumphs over Smith and Wellesley and upping their league record to 4-1.
Smith opened the first game by building up five points in rapid succession. Undaunted, Harvard struck back for a 7-5 advantage. Despite the strong Smith defense, Harvard kept in control and took the game, 15-11.
The second game proved more competitive, with both teams maintaining potentially equal scores throughout. With Smith up 8-7, the Crimson broke things open. With sophomore Margaret Asomaning serving, Harvard rallied for six straight points to take a 14-7 grip on the game. Close coordination between spiker Asomaning and junior setter Cathy Wong kept Smith out of the contest and, in spite of the opponents' spectacular dives and rolls, Harvard clinched the game, 15-12.
"I think that they played reasonably well, though they were inconsistent," Harvard Coach Ishan Gurdal commented afterwards. "Even when they do something well, you can't win with one good play." He was especially happy with the performance of junior Kathy Yanelli, who consistently planted well placed spikes in the IAB floorboards.
While the Crimson took on a spectator role, Smith bounced back to clobber Wellesley, 15-12, 15-4, in the second match of the evening. Harvard followed suit, 15-6, 11-15, 15-12.
The unerring accuracy of junior Coco Trumbull's spikes made the first game all Harvard, but Wellesley tied things up as the Crimson sleepwalked through the second game. With the second-game score knotted at 11, a few miscalculated shots allowed Wellesley to score the remaining required points and claim their first victory of the evening.
Both teams showed their fatigue in the decisive game. Although many shots on both sides landed in the not or out of bounds, Harvard maintained a steady two-or three-point lead.
In the final moments, Wellesley appeared to recover its strength momentarily. But a Trumbull spike gave Harvard the chance to finish the game, and Wong tipped the ball over the net to bring the evening's competition to a close.
Gurdal could scarcely contain his joy: "It'll take time for them to get better, to stop making so many mistakes, but...I'm happy."