California Unkind to W. Volleyball

Evan K. Wilson

KATIE TURLEY-MOLONY (15), KIM GOULD and the Harvard women’s volleyball team lost all nine games on their tour of California.

It’s a good thing the Harvard women’s volleyball team’s trip to California was about more than improving its record. The Crimson (1-5) didn’t win a game in three matches against San Diego State, Pepperdine and Cal Poly during its trip to the home state of nine of its twelve players.

“We definitely expected these teams to be the caliber they are,” Weiss said.

Still, the players and coaches enjoyed meals with their parents and a family-centered fan following, a rarity for the Golden State-based players.

The Crimson opened its trip Thursday night at San Diego State (8-5), losing 30-10, 30-21, 30-14.

Harvard came the closest in the second game, pulling within three points at 21-18.

But two hitting errors combined with powerful Aztec hitting to doom the Crimson.

In the first game, San Diego State jumped out to an 11-3 lead, extended it to 17-5 and ran off with the game.

Harvard fell behind again in the third game, 12-3, and never recovered.

The Aztecs had a .473 hitting percentage and were led by middle blocker Aspen McPartland, who hit an intimidating .591. The Aztecs held Harvard’s hitting to a slim .102. Senior outside hitter Nathalie Miller posted a double-double with 11 kills and 10 digs for the Crimson.

“They simply were physically bigger,” Harvard coach Jennifer Weiss said. “We were trying to execute our offense, but they were blocking.”

On Friday, Harvard took on an even bigger team—No. 7 Pepperdine. The outmatched Crimson fell 30-12, 30-10, 30-21.

The Waves’ dominant play made it hard for Harvard to develop any momentum.

Pepperdine served 10 aces and held the Crimson to a .030 hitting percentage in the match. Senior outside hitter Katie Wilkins notched .621 for the Waves with 20 kills, leading the team to .505 hitting.

Nevertheless, Harvard took 21 points in one game from one of the top teams in the country, a big step toward what the squad hopes to accomplish during the Ivy season.

“We didn’t have any regrets after that game, which was something our team had talked about,” said junior Kaego Ogbechie, who is sidelined due to a knee injury. “It’s great for our team to be able to see different teams of different caliber. It was an amazing opportunity.”

The Crimson closed out its California tour last night with a tough, 30-24, 30-24, 30-21 loss to Cal Poly (8-4).

The story of that game was co-captain middle hitter Mariah Pospisil. She had a .438 hitting percentage and also provided a dominant defensive presence at the net, helping to hold the Mustangs to a .081 hitting percentage in the first game and .295 for the match.

“Mariah had a number of really great blocks,” said assistant coach and former Harvard setter Mindy Jellin ’03. “She was really dominating at the net.”

The Crimson traded points with Cal Poly through most of the match, but was never able to break away.

“When we did get runs, it was a little difficult for us to maintain a lead,” Ogbechie said. “We definitely didn’t give up. We knew we could beat the team.”

Despite the losses, the trip was a worthwhile one for Harvard.

“There’s a lot more that goes in, when you take a trip like this, in regards to how the team can bond on the road,” Weiss said. “That’s really going to help them in Ivy competition. That goes a long way.”