The Crimson’s loss to the Quakers came on the heels of a 3-1 defeat at Princeton (17-6, 10-2 Ivy) on Friday night.
Several Harvard players set career-highs in their battle against Penn Saturday. Co-captain outside hitter Allison Bendush became just the fifth player in Harvard history to reach 1,000 career digs. Junior outside hitter Nilly Schweitzer ranks fourth on Harvard’s single-season kills list with 420. Senior outside hitter Nathalie Miller earned 23 kills and 27 digs in her final collegiate game.
But the Crimson just did not have enough to defeat the Quakers (19-6, 12-1), which can clinch the Ivy title with a win over Princeton on Wednesday night.
Penn 3, Harvard 2
In the final contest of the Crimson season, Harvard (8-15, 7-7) lost to the Quakers in five games (31-29, 26-30, 30-28, 26-30 and 15-11).
Emotions were running high for seniors Bendush, Miller, middle hitter Mariah Pospisil and outside hitter Amy Dildine.
In the decisive game five, Harvard’s defense looked as though it had run out of gas. The Quakers defeated the Crimson 15-11, and sent Harvard’s four seniors off with a bitter weekend sweep.
Harvard battled fiercely but came up just short in the first frame. Penn eked out a tough 31-29 victory in game one after going point for point with the Crimson down the stretch.
Harvard took a strong lead in game two after finding itself tied with Penn at 14. This time though, Harvard went on a 5-0 run to lead, 28-23, before the Quakers got back into it. Penn tried to come back, but a few costly serving errors prevented the Quakers from overtaking the Crimson. After the Harvard 30-26 win, the two teams went into the break tied at a game a piece.
The Crimson lost its momentum in game three and fell behind the 20-13. Penn offered Harvard the chance to get back in the game after committing five straight errors, making the score 24-21. Both teams settled down but the Crimson was unable to get on top, losing 30-28.
Harvard came back strong in the fourth game, taking an early 8-3 lead, and did not allow the Quakers to get closer than 28-25, en route to a 30-26 win.
The Crimson seniors did not go quietly. Pospisil notched a career-high 20 kills. Bendush had 31 digs, giving her 387 on the season, the third most in a season by any Harvard player. The seniors were helped by Schweitzer who posted her 14th double-double of the season with 23 kills and 22 digs.
“It hurt to lose, but I don’t think we can be too upset with the game,” Schweitzer said.
Princeton 3, Harvard 1
The Crimson came out strong against Princeton Friday night, but couldn’t keep up the momentum dropping the match in four games (27-30, 30-28, 30-19, 30-27).