W. Volleyball Sweeps Into Heart of Ivy Season With Two Wins

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Joseph L. Abel

Captain and setter Kim Gould (5) celebrates with teammates Nilly Schweitzer (6) and Laura Mahon (2) during Harvard’s 3-0 sweep of Dartmouth at the Malkin Athletic Center Friday night.

There might not have been new episodes of Will and Grace or Joey, but for the Harvard women’s volleyball team it was clear that this was indeed sweeps week.

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.”

HARVARD 3, DARTMOUTH 0

A week after struggling to dispose of a tough Dartmouth team in four games, Harvard immediately pushed the Big Green (3-9, 0-2) back on its heels, waltzing to a 3-0 (30-18, 30-20, 30-24) win in front of a raucous crowd on Friday night.

Freshman outside hitter Laura Mahon led Harvard with 16 kills and chipped in six digs on the night.

“Laura’s a very smart player,” Schweitzer said. “She sees the court and the block really well and doesn’t try to do too much with a bad set.”

Ogbechie and Schweitzer each posted double-doubles in kills and digs on the match.

The Crimson recorded nine aces, including four from co-captain Kim Gould.

Dartmouth stayed with Harvard early in the first game, pulling to within three at 10-7 after a block by Big Green front liners Frances Samolowicz and Sandy Barbut. The Crimson proceeded to take 15 of the next 19 points with Ogbechie accounting for six of those on four kills and two blocks.

“We were focused coming into the contest after [the loss] Tuesday night against Northeastern,” Weiss said. “We were passing well, seeing the block, and mixing it around…if we keep dispersing the ball like that, we’ll play very well in the [Ivy] League.”

The final two games were all Harvard, with the Crimson jumping out to 11-4 leads in each. In the second frame Dartmouth closed the gap to 16-11, but Harvard responded by taking eight of the next ten points. The Big Green managed to make the game competitive, pulling within six late, but aces by Schweitzer and Ogbechie helped the Crimson seal the deal.

Harvard built upon its 11-4 lead in the third game, extending it to 20-8 before Dartmouth began to chip away. The Big Green cut the Crimson lead to 25-20, forcing Harvard to call its only timeout of the match. The Crimson picked up three points directly out of the timeout on a Dartmouth attack error and a block and a kill by freshman middle blocker Suzie Trimble, en route to a 30-24 match-clinching win.

“It was a very clean, very well-executed match and our contact was right on,” Weiss said. “That was probably the best we played together, and we were very confident on every ball.”

—Staff writer Michael R. James can be reached at mrjames@fas.harvard.edu.

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