With two dominating conference wins this weekend, the Harvard women’s volleyball team found itself in a novel situation—atop the Ivy League standings.
The Crimson (8-7, 4-0 Ivy) followed a 3-0 sweep of Yale (7-6, 1-2) on Friday night with a 3-1 victory over Brown to remain the lone undefeated Ivy squad.
“I’m really pleased [with the team’s play],” said Harvard coach Jen Weiss, “but every match that we see is going to be tough.”
Sophomore middle blocker Kaego Ogbechie, always the primary weapon, posted consecutive strong showings with match-high kill totals (17 against Yale, 20 against Brown) in both contests.
But Ogbechie was far from the only option.
Jellin engineered the Crimson’s multi-threat attack, spreading the ball to a variety of Crimson hitters on her way to averaging almost 12 assists per game on the weekend.
“I think that Mindy Jellin has been running a great offense,” Weiss said. “We have a lot of hitters getting a lot of balls.”
With the two victories, Harvard has already tallied more league wins than it did the entirety of last season. The Crimson finished 2001 with a 3-11 Ivy mark.
Harvard continues into the heart of its Ivy schedule when it hosts Columbia and Cornell at the Malkin Athletic Center this weekend.
Harvard 3, Brown 1
The Crimson responded to every Bear surge to plow its way to a 3-1 (30-19, 26-30, 30-21, 30-21) victory over the defending co-league champions.
The turning point of the match was a four-point run sparked by the powerful play of Ogbechie. After splitting the first two games, Harvard and Brown (6-9, 2-1) were knotted at 11-11 in game three.
But Ogbechie took over, picking up kills on three of the next four points. The final kill— a powerful spike into the center of the court— sent the small crowd of 100 onlookers, and the Crimson team, into a frenzy.
“We are just having so much fun,” said sophomore setter Kim Gould.
Harvard went on to cruise to a 30-21 victory.
The final game of the match was never close, with the Crimson coasting to the match-deciding victory.
Ogbechie posted 5.5 blocks in addition to her 20 kills, while junior outside hitter Allison Bendush added Harvard’s only double-double (14 kills, 13 digs).
Sophomore outside hitters Pernilla Schweitzer and Ashley Atkins added nine and eight digs, respectively. Junior outside hitter Amy Dildine chipped in 11 kills.
Harvard 3, Yale 0
After watching Winthrop snap its five-game winning streak the previous Saturday, the Crimson began a new streak, bullying Yale to a straight game 3-0 (30-21, 30-24, 30-25) victory Friday night.
Ogbechie led the Harvard offense with 17 kills and a monstrous .481 hitting percentage in a contest that was never close.
Bendush and Pospisil each chipped in nine kills, as Jellin (34 assists) spread out the offense.
“Our team chemistry is great right now,” Weiss said. “They are all thinking about each other.”
Junior outside hitter Nathalie Miller went down late in the first game with an ankle injury, but the Crimson was relieved by the return of Schweitzer.
Schweitzer, a starter since her first match at Harvard last season, hadn’t played since injuring her neck during warm-ups two weeks ago, but tallied eight digs in just over two games.
Bendush led a very balanced Crimson defense with nine digs, while Atkins and Ogbechie posted eight each. Gould added seven digs.
—Staff writer Lande A. Spottswood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.