Harvard Snaps Losing Streak Against Sacred Heart

  The Crimson ladies are back—with a bang. The Harvard women’s volleyball team shattered its seven-match losing streak with a dominating performance Saturday night, routing Sacred Heart 3-0 (30-22, 20-20, 30-16). Powering the Crimson’s domination was sophomore libero Alexandra Michael, who, getting her first collegiate start in place of regular starter and co-captain Elizabeth Blotky, provided consistently tough and steady play throughout the match. "Alex was solid back there," junior co-captain Sarah Cebron said, "[and she] really helped the team out tonight." With Michael’s steady play in place, sophomores Laura Mahon and Suzie Trimble were able to slam away kill after kill. Mahon and Trimble combined for 20 kills, and their hitting percentages were a whopping .400 and .409, respectively. "[Laura] was the most consistent player on our team last year—it’s good to have her back," Blotky said. "And [Suzie] is our go-to player of the season so far." Behind Trimble’s and Mahon’s outstanding play, the Crimson (3-8, 0-2 Ivy) pounded Sacred Heart (3-10) from start to finish, never giving the Pioneers any hope of victory. The Crimson stepped up its play from the beginning, finishing the first frame with an 11-4 spurt to win the game, 30-22. Harvard never looked back. "We dominated them," Cebron said. "It wasn’t a bad win—we didn’t go down to their level." In fact, Sacred Heart never amassed a positive hitting percentage during the match. Its highest hitting percentage, .000, was reached in the second game. Much of the credit for the Pioneers’ failure, however, goes to Harvard. Its tremendous defense, led by the scrappy play of freshman outside hitter Kathryn McKinley, prevented Sacred Heart from getting anywhere offensively. "We were on top of our game tonight," Blotky said. "We played with authority—we knew we were going to get it done." In the second frame, Harvard used a 7-0 run to finish off Sacred Heart 30-20. During this run, Mahon served up her second ace, Trimble crushed two blocks and a kill, and sophomore outside hitter Mimi Hanley punctuated the run with a kill at 29-20 to win the frame. In the third game, the Crimson coasted, thrashing the Pioneers 30-16 behind a solid team effort. The team posted a .333 hitting percentage—an outstanding clip for collegiate volleyball. "We were focused on executing our game plan," said Harvard head coach Jennifer Weiss. "[Following this victory], we’re excited and ready to go play each opponent." The Crimson will now hit the road for five straight matches. After taking on the University of Connecticut on Tuesday night, Harvard will get to the heart of its league schedule, starting with matches against Penn and Princeton. And though they’re currently winless in the Ivies, the parity of the league guarantees that anything can happen. "Breaking that streak was huge for us," Cebron said. "We’re only going to get better from here on."

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