Everyone deserves a second chance, and the Harvard women’s volleyball got one. But the Crimson (4-9, 0-2 Ivy) couldn’t take advantage of its second consecutive meeting with Dartmouth, falling to the Big Green (6-6, 2-0) on Friday.
Harvard fell 14-25, 22-25, 19-25 in a shutout against Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H., after the Big Green had defeated the Crimson at a home match on Sept. 25. The two-match series provided the teams with an opportunity to rework their play to best suit their opponents, Harvard arrived in Hanover with a different game plan than it had in the teams’ initial meeting.
“We played a much better match this Friday than we had last week,” co-captain Chelsea Ono Horn said. “Back-to-back is a fun opportunity. We changed some things up to adjust to the Dartmouth offense because they’re a really quick team with a good setter.”
The defense was one of the few bright spots this weekend for the Crimson, which out-blocked the Big Green, 6.5-6.0. Harvard also had a nine-dig advantage in the match, partly in thanks to sophomore Christine Wu’s team-high of 19.
But the Crimson struggled offensively, generating a .067 attack clip relative to Dartmouth’s .222. Junior Mikaelle Comrie, who managed eight kills, led the women’s squad with help from sophomore Anne Carroll Ingersoll, who recorded seven. Harvard also had six more team members contribute at least two kills over the three-set match.
“Defense would get the ball up and hitters didn’t do such a great job at putting it away or even keeping it in the court,” Ingersoll said.
The Big Green’s Megan MacGregor did not encounter such troubles on the attack, notching 16 kills on 29 attempts for a .517 attack percentage.
The Crimson was quickly put on its toes Friday when Dartmouth setter Kendall Houston opened the first set with two aces—the home team put up six throughout the night. But Harvard refused to let its opponent build an early advantage and the two teams rallied back-and-forth until the Big Green jumped ahead at 14-9 and forced the Crimson to take its first timeout. It was not enough to get the team on track, and Dartmouth scored 10 consecutive points before closing out the game and establishing a 1-0 lead.
The second set looked much more promising, as Harvard leapt out to a 5-1 lead with Wu serving and sophomore Sandra Lynn Fryhofer contributing two kills in a row. The Big Green responded with four consecutive serving points from Amber Bryant, but the Crimson took a two-point lead at 9-7 before Dartmouth called for a timeout. After the break, the Big Green came back and built up a 21-15 lead off of several Crimson serving errors. Senior setter Lily Durwood served until Harvard was within one point of tying, but Dartmouth ultimately finished with a 25-22 advantage.
Despite playing from a 2-0 hole, the Crimson successfully kept pace with Dartmouth to start the third frame. The two teams tied a total of eight times throughout the final set. There was no more than a two-point difference in the score until past the halfway point, when the Big Green went up 15-12. Once again, the Crimson used a timeout to try and compose itself, but Dartmouth would not relent. A combination of serving from Houston and a powerful kill by Morgan Covington gave the Big Green the set, and the match.
“I hope we all come into practice this week with everyone willing to take on responsibility to better themselves,” Ingersoll said. “And what we really need is consistency.”
Harvard’s Ivy League record is now 0-2, and the team has a long stretch of conference games ahead. Ono Horn echoed Ingersoll’s sentiments, saying that the team will continue to improve as it tries to rack up some wins in the upcoming weeks.
“Consistency is what we’re going to try to build up,” Ono Horn said. “We’re a really powerful and athletic team, but we need consistency so that when things get chaotic we can go back to basics.”
The Crimson will attempt start anew in Ivy play next weekend in a New York road trip featuring battles with Cornell and Columbia.