The crowd was excited and rooting for its team’s first victory, but the Harvard men’s volleyball team could not come through for its fans.
Despite a strong showing in the first set, the Crimson (0-7) went down to No. 9 UC Santa Barbara (7-8), 3-0, last night at the Malkin Athletic Center.
The injury-riddled home squad could not take advantage of early leads and made too many errors to give the Gauchos the win.
“We competed well,” Harvard coach Brian Baise said. “But we gave up points in streaks and couldn’t get the momentum back. [His players] showed a lot of guts and grit out there.”
The Crimson started off with a 4-1 lead in the first game, but Santa Barbara quickly turned things around, dominating the middle of the opening game.
Despite the shift in momentum, Harvard managed to respond and cut the lead to one point, but the Gauchos went on a 3-0 run to give them the first game, 30-26.
The Crimson made a crucial error on set point, giving Santa Barbara the set on a rotation error.
“We lost focus out there sometimes,” co-captain Gil Weintraub said. “Being out of rotation was just an example of the team losing focus.”
Harvard came out strong in the second set, but the Gauchos dashed all hopes of a Crimson comeback.
On a crucial point for Harvard, a spike by sophomore Matt Jones was originally called in—which would have ended a 2-0 run by Santa Barbara—but the head referee overruled the decision, giving the Gauchos a 12-9 lead.
The Crimson had a chance to get back into the match after Baise called a timeout, and with renewed focus, Harvard cut Santa Barbara’s lead late in the set.
After Todd Travis of the Gauchos went flying face-first into the stands to keep the ball alive, Jones ended the rally with a kill, bringing his team within striking distance.
But the Crimson fell apart soon after, handing the set to Santa Barbara on a service error by co-captain Erik Kuld, 30-22.
“We got in trouble in the second game because we were passing really badly,” Jones said. “There were a lot of positives, but we just needed to play more consistently throughout the whole game.”
Harvard tried to extend the match by taking the third set, but the eventual outcome remained the same.