The Harvard women's volleyball team macked the Malkin Athletic Center, (MAC) this weekend as they defeated Cornell and Columbia to open Ivy League play.
The Crimson (7-5, 2-0 Ivy) got off to a great league start with a 15-8, 17-19, 15-3, 15-8 home win over Cornell on Friday. The team followed that up with a 15-8, 15-9, 16-14 victory over Columbia on Saturday.
"This weekend was good for us," said Harvard Coach Jennifer Bates. "But there is a lot of parity in the league."
Harvard 3, Cornell 1
The Cornell game started off quickly for Harvard as it got off to leads of 7-3 and 13-4 before winning the first game 15-8 on an emphatic kill by co-captain middle-hitter Elissa Hart.
In game two, Harvard jumped out to a 6-2 lead before Cornell came back on a six-point streak. The Crimson held off three game points to tie the game at 14. The Crimson earned two chances to take the game, but finally succumbed to the Big Red attack 17-19.
Harvard, in response to the letdown of the previous game, struck early in game three to lead 6-1 and 12-2 before winning 15-3 on a block by Hart.
The Crimson put the Big Red away with a 15-8 score in the fourth game win in which it opened with a 2-0 lead. Then came 11 straight sideouts before Cornell tied the game. The game was even until, at 5-5, Harvard won four straight points on a series of Cornell errors. This led to the Harvard match victory.
Hart and sophomore outside hitter Linda Jellison shone in the Cornell game. Jellison is quickly finding her place on the team after suffering from mono for most of the season last year.
Harvard 3, Columbia 0
The name of the game on Saturday was freshmen when Columbia came to Cambridge. The Crimson fielded all 15 players during the match, five of which were freshmen who received considerable action. Crimson Vincent Levy WHACK: The Crimson netters slammed its Ivy competition this weekend "The freshmen are just as good as anyone else," Lopez said. "I don't feel like I'm leading. They're focused, I'm focused, and we all want the same thing."
Harvard was up 2-1 in the first game when a group of loud, shirtless football fans with "Harvard" on their chests and "Crimson" on their backs showed up.
The volleyball team didn't seem to mind. It extended the lead to 9-1 and followed that up with a lead of 12-3.
The Lions, presumably numb to the super fans by that time, clawed back to 13-8 before the Crimson put it away 15-8.
In the second game, Harvard got comfortable with margins of 10-0 and 12-2.
As it rested on its laurels, Columbia came back to 13-9 before Harvard held strong to win 15-9.
"We had 15 bodies in and off the court against Columbia," Bates said. "We didn't pass as well as we could, but we are happy."
In the third (and what would prove to be final game) the Lions gave the Crimson a run for its money. The game was even early in the game before the Crimson once again jumped to a decent lead, 12-8. The Lions took a timeout.
The strategy must have worked as Columbia broke the home team's run. The Lions roared back to a 12-14 lead and two game points. Led by co-captain Lolita Lopez, the Crimson players, many of whom were freshman, rose to the occasion to rattle off four straight points to take the match.
"It's a good freshmen class," Bates said. "Julie [Yick] and Katherine [Hart] have been key."
"The transition [to college volleyball] has been really easy," said Yick, who is a setter. "There is really no division between the classes."
Harvard, who last year finished second behind Brown at the Ivy League Tournament looks to be among the leaders come post season.
Its next Ivy challenge comes in the form of Dartmouth on October 11.
Before then, however, the Crimson must first travel to Massachusetts tomorrow for its 11th non-conference match of the season.
HARVARD, 3-1 at Malkin Athletic CenterCornell 8 19 3 8 - 1Harvard 15 17 15 15 -