For wisdom, wine, and the Harvard women’s volleyball team, things only get better with age.
In their fourth and final year as Crimson athletes, the team’s four seniors led Harvard (12-13, 8-6 Ivy) to its best season since 2004.
“Over time, we had more depth and chemistry,” Crimson coach Jen Weiss said. “Our overall athletic play has gotten better for the past three or four years.”
After going 4-7 in nonconference play, the Crimson commenced its Ivy League season with back-to-back losses to Dartmouth. After beating Cornell and Columbia to even its Ivy League record at 2-2, the team defeated Princeton at home in a tight five-set match, one of the highlights of the season. It was Harvard’s first win over the Tigers since 2002.
The Crimson went 5-4 in its remaining matches, completing season sweeps of Brown, the Lions, and the Big Red. With its 3-0 blanking of Cornell at home on Halloween, Harvard marked its first season sweep of the Big Red—a team it hadn’t beaten in conference play since 2004—in seven years.
The Crimson finished the season 8-6 in the Ivy League, securing Harvard fourth place in the conference.
The Crimson’s best performance came in the season’s last weekend, when Harvard traveled to Philadelphia, Penn. to take on the undefeated University of Pennsylvania team. Down 2-1, the Crimson, led by freshman Taylor Docter, rallied to take the 3-2 win. With the victory, Harvard broke another drought against a conference rival, as it was the squad’s first win over the Quakers since 2004.
“They were undefeated and we beat them on their home turf,” co-captain Chelsea Ono Horn said. “It was really nice to win that game.”
Aside from Horn, seniors Lily Durwood, Katherine Kocurek, and Alissa Flesher all made an impact.
“They were a solid foundation and really fed off of each other,” Weiss said. “Volleyball is a game of momentum, and they would play off of each other’s strengths.”
Kocurek set a team record with 1,416 career digs, while Durwood notched 3,410 total assists, good for third in the Harvard record books.
Aside from its talent, the senior class was remarkable for its closeness and leadership.
“We love each other to no end,” Horn said. “We had a really strong class from the beginning. A lot of us have played since freshman year.”
The team also received notable contributions from underclassman talent, in particular from three sophomores, each of whom received Ivy League honors. Sophomores Anne Carroll Ingersoll and Christine Wu each were named second-team All-Ivy, and classmate Sandra Lynne Fryhofer received honorable mention.
Ingersoll led the Ivy League with 1.14 blocks per set and averaged 2.81 kills per set—second-best on the team. Wu averaged 5.11 digs per set, good for third in the league, and led the team with 28 aces. Ingersoll will join current co-captain Miyoko Pettit as a leader of the 2010 squad.
“It will be even better for next year’s team,” Horn said. “We still have a lot of our main players, we have some great recruits coming in, and the bulk of the team is still going to be together.”
Weiss and her players hope to build on this season’s improvement and reinstate Harvard as a contender for the Ivy League championship.
“We’re definitely going to miss our seniors, for their experience and leadership,” Weiss said. “We’re going to have to work hard. Our freshman class will come in and make an impact.”
—Staff writer Charlie Cabot can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.