Following a win at Brown (5-11, 1-4 Ivy) on Friday, the Harvard women’s volleyball team (9-6, 2-3) ended its two-game winning streak in a loss at Yale (11-4, 5-0) on Saturday. The victory against the Bears marked the Crimson’s first match in Ancient Eight play this year that didn’t need to be pushed into a fifth set.
“Sometimes you don’t know what to expect from [Brown],” co-captain Christine Wu said. “When we lost that third game, we [thought] let’s get it together, let’s get back into the system and let’s take control of the set … This is our game, let’s finish it now. We shouldn’t have to go to five to win this match.”
YALE 3, HARVARD 0
Harvard headed to New Haven to take on the Bulldogs, the undefeated first-place team in the Ivy League, only to fall in straight sets, 25-17, 25-21, 25-20.
“We just didn’t respond as well,” Wu said. “Even though they are a young team, they have a lot of great attackers, and their defense is pretty solidified.”
Yale outperformed the Crimson .306 to .183 in hitting percentage, 66 to 55 in digs, five to zero in blocks, and six to three in aces. Junior outside hitter Taylor Docter tallied 12 kills and a .324 hitting percentage on the night. Sophomore setter Natalie Doyle contributed 33 assists and 10 digs, earning her fourth straight double-double. Wu added 18 digs.
The Crimson trailed, 11-6, at the beginning of the first set. Harvard brought down the deficit to two points, 17-15, but the host kept its lead and came out on top, 25-17.
In the second set, the Bulldogs opened with another lead and maintained it throughout the entire set. The Crimson worked its way up after trailing by seven to come within two points again, 22-20, but the visitors couldn’t finish its comeback, as Yale finished the set, 25-21.
The Bulldogs came out strong yet again in the third, scoring three straight points to extend its lead, 11-6. Another three-point run increased Yale’s advantage to 17-11, and the Bulldogs never looked back. The Ivy leaders closed out the match, 25-20, remaining undefeated in the conference.
“Yale is a very good offensive and defensive team, and it was just hard for us to respond well to that,” Wu said. “But, even with the loss, we saw a lot of good things that we did that we can capitalize on and a lot of other things that we also need to work on.”
HARVARD 3, BROWN 1
In its first victory that didn’t require five sets, Harvard defeated Brown 25-22, 25-17, 17-25, and 25-22.
The Crimson led the opening set of the match with a small lead of 8-7, but Docter hit two kills to set a 4-0 run into motion, setting the score at 12-7. After a 4-1 stretch, Harvard sailed ahead again to 19-14. Freshman outside hitter Kristen Casey ended the game with a kill, 25-22.
“We played pretty well and stayed in our system,” Casey said.
The Bears began the second set with an early 2-0 lead, but the Crimson got control of the ball and took the lead for the rest of the game, scoring four of the final five points to win, 25-17. Sophomore right side Erin Cooney delivered the final hit, and Casey contributed eight kills in the frame with a .462 hitting percentage.
In the third set, Brown showed the Crimson that it was not finished yet, coming out with a 25-17 victory.
Harvard rebounded in the fourth set after a neck-in-neck game, bringing the score to a tie at 16. After a 5-0 run that left the Crimson with a cushioned lead at 21-16, Harvard kept the Bears from pushing the match to five sets with a match point by Casey—her fifth kill of the set—putting the Crimson on top at 25-22.
Docter featured in the match, posting 15 kills and a .359 hit percentage. Doyle recorded 40 assists and 15 digs, and Wu contributed 26 digs. Casey ended the night with 12 digs and a season-high 21 kills, earning her second straight double-double and fifth of the year.
Despite splitting the weekend, Harvard was pleased with its progress.
“It was a good learning experience,” Wu said. “We know what to expect from them now, and hopefully we’ll be more ready to get them next time.”