W. Volleyball Sweeps Brown, Drops Four-Game Heartbreaker to Yale

Emotions could not have run higher for the Harvard women’s volleyball team on Saturday afternoon at the Malkin Athletic Center. Not only was it the Crimson’s final home match of the season and Senior Night, but the opponent was Ivy rival Yale.

But Harvard (8-14, 7-5 Ivy) suffered a heartbreaking 3-1 (21-30, 30-20, 30-22, 30-28) loss to the Bulldogs (14-8, 6-5), a result that came on the heels of a three-game sweep of Brown on Friday night.

In her final home match, co-captain outside hitter Allison Bendush set a school record for digs in a single match with 35 in the Crimson’s four-game thriller against Yale.

“I’ve had a great four years,” Bendush said. “I’ll miss my team. I think that’s what I’ll miss the most: the girls on the team probably.”

Harvard closes out the season next weekend as it travels to Princeton and Penn, looking to avenge earlier losses from earlier in the season.

Yale 3, Harvard 1

The Crimson came out strong on Saturday, but could never recover from its disappointing performance in the middle two games, finally falling in four despite a dramatic effort in the final game.

As the fourth game drew to a close, Harvard faced a 24-29 sudden-death situation. A kill by junior outside hitter Nilly Schweitzer gave the Crimson a side-out. Schweitzer added two more kills to pull Harvard within three.

“They were the five most exciting points I’ve seen them play this year,” assistant coach Mindy Jellin ’03 said. “People did things I’ve never seen them do.”

One of those people was co-captain and middle hitter Mariah Pospisil, who dug several hard Bulldog hits to keep the points alive.

At 27-29, junior setter Kim Gould tipped the ball over the block after a long rally to pull the Crimson within just one.

After Yale spent a timeout, Pospisil served it deep into the Bulldogs’ court, before the ball was slammed right back. Senior outside hitter Nathalie Miller popped it up to Gould, who set Schweitzer. But Yale dug the line shot and sent it across the net to Harvard once more. Pospisil had a save of her own, though, and Schweitzer got to swing again.

Amazingly, the Bulldogs got the ball back into play, and the teams continued to rally.

Some members of the crowd were on their feet as the point continued. The gasps and sighs signaled one of the most active crowds to see the volleyball team in action this year.

But in the end, Yale middle hitter Renee Lopes hit over the block into the deep corner, just out of reach of the diving Pospisil to steal the game and match.

“I wanted to leave everything out on the court,” Pospisil said. “I knew it was going to be my last time on this court, and I wanted to leave it all.”