Overpowering offense, precision setting and thrilling excitement describes the Harvard women's volleyball team's 3-2 defeat of Cornell on Saturday at the Malkin Athletic Center.
Facing a deficit of 7-11 in the final fifth game, Harvard rallied together with the home crowd behind it to beat Cornell, 10-15, 15-9, 15-8, 10-15, 15-13.
The match was tied 2-2 after four games, which thrust the teams into a fifth game, under rally point scoring. Harvard (9-6, 2-2 Ivy) was down 9-5 until Cornell made a few mistakes, giving Harvard the momentum to surge ahead and win 15-13. For the match-winning point, freshman outside hitter, Melissa Forcum pounded an unreturnable spike.
The Crimson did not look nearly as dominant in the first game, however. Crippled by weak passing and tentative offense Harvard dropped the first match, 15-10.
The combination of freshman setter Kate Nash's deceptive quick sets, back sets, jumpsets and outside sets for 42 assists, and the power of spiker Elissa Hart (nine kills) carried the momentum for the team to wins in its next two games, 15-9 and 15-8.
"We didn't have a problem of letting our errors spiral downwards," sophomore Elissa Hart said.
Even so, Cornell was on its toes for the third game, evening the score point for point. For Harvard, aggressive net play--led by co-captain Jen Jose (eight blocks), Hart (seven blocks) and sophomore Sarah Logan (five blocks)--in addition to strong defense and mental toughness kept the Crimson in control of these key games.
"The key was aggressiveness, not giving up," Harvard coach Jennifer Bates said. "It's easy to fold, [but] they didn't do that."
It was not until the fourth game that Harvard began to pass sloppily which hindered Nash and its offense. Cornell took a quick 6-1 lead and didn't look back, winning 15-10.
Game five, the rally game, was the test of which team made the least mistakes who would win.
"We were down 9-5...we switched sides and we started playing together," Nash said. "Everything was working. Usually we become hesitant, but we did not [then]. I had goose bumps."
With Jose, Forcum, Hart and Logan strong, Harvard kept on working well. The Crimson soon closed the gap to 13-13, but a missed Cornell serve gave Harvard the match point. A Forcum spike later, and Harvard repeated last year's five-game victory against Cornell.
Eric F. Brown contributed to the reporting of this story.