The Crimson (7-4, 2-0 Ivy) dominated both Dartmouth and Marist at the Malkin Athletic Center this weekend, defeating each squad 3-0, with the closest of the six games being decided by six points.
“We really scouted Dartmouth,” said senior outside hitter Nilly Schweitzer. “We knew the kinds of things they were going to try to do, and we knew what we’d have to do to [stop them].”
Harvard has now won five out of its last six contests and has guaranteed itself at least a .500 record in non-conference play with just Boston College remaining on the schedule before Ivy League play kicks into full gear.
“Compared to last year, we’re working off of so much more momentum [heading into Ivies],” co-captain Kaego Ogbechie said. “It’s a great confidence builder for our team.”
HARVARD 3, MARIST 0
It may not have been a continuous, wire-to-wire thrashing like the match against Dartmouth the night before, but the result was the same as the Crimson topped Marist 3-0 (30-22, 30-21, 30-18) on Saturday.
Ogbechie recorded a match-high 13 kills and junior libero Elizabeth Blotky led all players with 20 digs.
Harvard jumped out to a 9-2 lead and extended it to 18-9 in game one. The two sides traded points from there on out as the Crimson coasted to the 30-22 win.
The cruise-control hit a bit of a speed bump in the second frame as the Red Foxes grabbed a 12-10 lead. Harvard immediately responded by running off eight consecutive points to open up a six-point lead.
Marist’s 11 attack errors over the course of the game hamstrung its chances of a comeback, as the Crimson pulled away for the 2-0 lead.
“We were definitely playing at a slower pace [than against Dartmouth],” Ogbechie said. “And it took us a little bit longer to get into our rhythm at the beginning of each game.”
“With the Ivy competition the matches are so much more emotional,” Harvard coach Jennifer Weiss added. “Our goal [against Marist] was just passing and keeping the ball control going, so there was a bit of a different focus.”
Despite its collapse in game two, the Red Foxes refused to fold, hanging with Harvard for the first half of the third frame.
Marist managed to knot the game at 16 on a kill by Sally Hanson, who led the Red Foxes with 10 on the match. But the Crimson capitalized on three Marist unforced errors and added five kills during an 8-1 run that sealed the match.
“In our huddles and team meetings on the court we would say, ‘We’re better than this, let’s pick it up’,” Ogbechie said. “I don’t think anyone in the game doubted that we would win at any point, and that’s the kind of confidence that we need.”