Determination resulted in two huge league victories for the Harvard women's volleyball squad this weekend, as it battled to a win against Princeton and then soundly defeated Penn.
The two triumphs gave Harvard (11-6, 4-0 Ivy) sole possession of first place in the Ivy League, as it remains undefeated in league play.
The team seemed obviously apprehensive as it traveled to Princeton to face the always talented and--at that time--undefeated tigers on Friday.
"We went into the match knowing it would be a tough one," said senior co-captain Alissa Hart. "But we were fired up and determined to take the victory. Princeton's team is very similar to last year's so we knew it wouldn't be easy."
That drive and familiarity proved important in the Crimson's defeat of the Tigers, winning the match in five long games. Both teams would not relent, knowing that this match could help determine the final Ivy League standings.
"Our team always plays together as a team," said sophomore Melissa Forcum. "We have a lot of heart and a lot of energy; attributes that Princeton is missing. They have the talent, but just don't play together."
Harvard needed to utilize these weaknesses to overpower Princeton during the marathon match.
Harvard 3, Penn 0
After Princeton, the team's weekend was far from over, however, as it geared up for Penn on Saturday.
"Of course we felt really good after beating Princeton, but we were definitely apprehensive going into our match against Penn," Forcum said. "Last year we beat Princeton in straight games and then lost to Penn in five games the next day. We didn't want that to happen again."
Actually, Harvard has not beaten Penn during regular season action in the last three years. It did not let it happen again, rolling over Penn in straight games.
"We have had trouble from Penn in the past," Hart said. "So we wanted to control the match from the beginning. I think we did that. We dominated the first game, held them off in the second and then closed out the match in the third.
"Even though we won in straight games we were a little disappointed because we knew that it wasn't our best play."
The Crimson will try to undo its disappointment when it defends its undefeated status against three more tough Ivy League teams. The outcome of each match will prove critical to its season.
"The next three teams we meet are all going to be tough to beat," Forcum said. "We play against Dartmouth, Yale and Brown, any one of those teams could defeat us."