Last weekend, a fatigued Harvard women's volleyball team took on what was probably its toughest competition of the season, losing to Southwest Missouri State, Purdue and Lamar.
On Saturday at the Boston College Eagle Challenge 2000, the Crimson picked up its first wins of the season, dispatching admittedly inferior opponents, dispatching Canisius 3-0 and Toledo 3-1.
"We were probably lucky to play the best teams early," senior outside hitter Angela Lutich said. "We got it out of the way."
Facing off against the 3-3 Toledo Rockets, the Crimson came out flat early. While Toledo recorded 16 kills in the first game, Harvard faltered with ten errors and lost the first game, 15-9.
After that, the Crimson settled down. An ugly second game ended up a 15-7 Harvard victory. Each side had more errors than kills.
Harvard picked up speed and went about dismantling the Rocket defense. Captain and middle hitter Katherine Hart had eleven kills and eleven digs over the entire match, finishing with a .250 hitting average.
The third game was interrupted by a minor disruption. Toledo Coach Kent Miller was apparently angered by an official's call and continued to yell and scream at both his players and referees Carole Burke and Dave Carson. He was then given a rarely-issued yellow card for misconduct.
Harvard jumped out to an early lead in the fourth game, and seemed to have things under control. However, the Rockets put on one more big offensive run.
"In the last game, we were winning, and I guess they just realized they had nothing to lose," Lutich said. "They played their best."
Toledo's newly-discovered serving prowess pushed the match to the edge. In the end however, the Crimson, led by freshman middle hitter Lauren Gallagher, made some big blocks to eke out a 16-14 win.
In addition to Gallagher's team-high .300 hitting average, she had five blocks. Freshman outside hitter Allison Bendush led the Crimson with 15 defensive digs.
Toledo's Becky Radomski had a career day, making not only 15 kills but also a personal-best 21 digs. Rocket teammate Bitsy Mayhle led the team with 16 kills.
In its first match, the Crimson impressively dismissed the hapless Canisius Golden Griffins (1-8). Every Harvard player got to play, and eleven players had kills. Lutich led the way with six kills.
Harvard also got 12 aces, five from Bendush, on its way to a 15-2, 15-6, 15-2 victory.
Canisius was led by sophomore Kelly Sieber, who recorded 15 assists in the losing effort. Middle hitter Jennifer Debee posted nine digs.
The Crimson's next match is this weekend when it hosts Providence, Holy Cross and Hartford in the Harvard classic at the Malkin Athletic Center.