After Friday’s stunning 3-0 loss to Cornell, the Crimson (13-7, 8-2 Ivy) punished Columbia in a 3-0 shutout victory on Saturday.
The Cornell loss was a disappointing one indeed, as the Big Red used the victory to pull even with Harvard into a tie for first place in the Ivy League.
“In general, our heads just weren’t all there,” said senior setter Kim Gould.
While the victory over cellar dweller Columbia put the Crimson back on track, a two-game road test against Brown and Yale this weekend will be critical in the Ivy title race.
HARVARD 3, COLUMBIA 0
A close first frame suggested that the long road trip might have caught up to the Crimson, but Harvard established a rhythm in the latter two games to take the match (30-28, 30-17, 30-18) going away.
The Crimson was unable to establish an offensive rhythm early, hitting only .192 in the opening game. Seven first-game attack errors by Harvard gave Columbia early momentum. The Lions (3-19, 1-9) executed 16 kills in the match’s opening frame and kept the frustrated Crimson squad on its heels. “In the first set we were kind of coming off jitters from the Cornell game andtrying to get our rhythm back,” Gould said. “Once we started playing well and playingtogether, it just escalated from there.”
With revived confidence, the Harvard offense turned it on over the next two games behind the efforts of senior outside hitter Nilly Schweitzer. Schweitzer recorded 12 kills on the afternoon. Co-captain and middle hitter Kaego Ogbechie saw to it that Columbia’s offense wouldn’t turn in similar numbers, tallying three blocks and clogging up the middle against the struggling Lions.
“When you play a team that does play at a slower pace, you find that in thefirst game it’s a little more difficult to get your rhythm,” Ogbechie said. “By the second game, you step up the defense and that usually makes the rest of your game easier.”
Harvard utilized that strategy perfectly in the second and third frames, holding Columbia to just 10 kills in each game. Schweitzer and Ogbechie—13 digs each—stalled the efforts of the Lions’ hitters throughout the match.
The Crimson front line, conversely, had few problems after its sluggish start. Freshman middle hitter Suzie Trimble turned in 10 kills and a .471 hitting percentage on the afternoon, and 17 kills in the second game gave Harvard the momentum heading into the next frame.
The third game reflected Harvard’s offensive efficiency, as the Crimson recorded a .360 hitting percentage. Harvard needed only 14 kills in the final frame to defeat the Lions, who could muster just .030 hitting percentage against the Crimson defense.
“We kind of realized after the first game that we should be getting more blocksand getting four hands up on every ball,” Gould said.
The Crimson responded to the call, finishing the afternoon’s game with eight blocks and forcing 24 Columbia attack errors.
CORNELL 3, HARVARD 0