Bulldogs Shock W. Volleyball in Sweep

SPLIT DECISION
Joseph L. Abel

Sophomore Katie Turley-Moloney and the women's volleyball teamsplit a pair of weekend games to retain a share of first place in the Ivy League.

Despite splitting two difficult Ivy road contests against Brown and Yale, the Harvard women’s volleyball team (15-7, 9-3 Ivy) still remains in a tie for first place with Cornell heading into the final weekend of the regular season.

The Big Red will host the Bears and Bulldogs to close out the season, while Penn and Princeton visit the Malkin Athletic Center to take on the Crimson. Harvard is 7-1 at home on the season and 5-0 in Ivy League play with its only loss coming to TCU in the season opener.

A sweep of the Quakers and Tigers will guarantee the Crimson at least a share of the Ivy title.

“Everyone wants to knock you out of No. 1 when you are No. 1,” co-captain Kaego Ogbechie said. “We know that there’s pressure, but that’s why we love it.”

YALE 3, HARVARD 0

Nobody bothered to tell the Yale women’s volleyball team that Harvard-Yale was still two weeks away.

The Bulldogs (12-7, 7-4) avenged a 3-0 October loss to the Crimson in Cambridge, burying Harvard 3-0 in New Haven this weekend. A rowdy J. Lee Amphitheater crowd spurred on the Bulldogs in their final homestand of the season, as the Crimson found it difficult to match the intensity of its rivals.

“There’s nothing better for Yale than to play their last home match against Harvard, the first-seeded team [in the league],” Ogbechie said. “We needed to step up, but it happened too late.”

Harvard found itself playing catchup against the Bulldogs from the very beginning. The first match went back-and-forth until the score got into the 20s, when Harvard grabbed a 23-22 lead. But Yale rallied for four straight points en route to a 30-25 first set victory, and the Crimson would never seize the momentum again.

Ogbechie’s match-high 16 kills kept the Crimson alive in the second and third games, but no other Harvard player would reach the double digits in the same category. Yale recorded 19 kills to the Crimson’s 13 in the second match, registering a scorching .293 hitting percentage.

Harvard was efficient as well with a .244 percentage, but four Yale hitters—Kali Nelson, Jana Freeman, Shannon Farrell and Renee Lopes—quieted any hope of a Harvard comeback with a combined 48 kills. Sophomore setter Sarah Cebron turned in 12 digs and Ogbechie added 11, but the effort on the back row wasn’t enough to contain the Bulldogs. Yale finished the match with a .273 hitting percentage and recorded 54 kills on the afternoon.

“We were on the defensive most of the time, and they were playing at us,” said freshman outside hitter Laura Mahon. “I don’t think we took it back up and played at them.”

Harvard tried to pick up the offense in the third game, but the hostile crowd kept up its antics and quelled any semblance of a Crimson comeback. The rattled front line from Harvard registered 17 kills but committed six attack errors in the match’s final frame.

“The momentum of the crowd, the reffing—everything seemed to fall on their side,” Ogbechie said. “And things happen to fall on your side when you play well.”

HARVARD 3, BROWN 2

Harvard managed to overcome a tremendous defensive display by Brown to grab a 3-2 (32-34, 31-29, 30-26, 26-30, 15-13) victory Friday night at the Pizzitola Center.

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