After taking Princeton (10-5, 3-0 Ivy) to a fifth set in a losing effort on Friday, the Harvard women’s volleyball team (8-5, 1-2) pulled it together to take down Penn (5-8, 1-2) in its third consecutive five-set game. The victory against the Quakers on Saturday on the road gave Harvard its first conference win as it heads into the heart of its season.
“It’s been a battle in the Ivy games we’ve seen so far,” co-captain Christine Wu said. “You have to work for every single point … but it just comes down to who wants it more.”
HARVARD 3, PENN 2
On Saturday at Penn, the Crimson showed that it was not going to let its defeat at Princeton keep it down, overpowering the Quakers 25-21, 20-25, 25-21, 20-25, 15-13.
In the first set, Harvard fell behind, 7-1, but caught up to Penn to even the score at 15. The Crimson finally took the lead after an ace from co-captain middle blocker Sandra Lynne Fryhofer, bringing the score to 19-18. After a 4-0 stretch, Harvard secured a 23-19 lead before freshman outside hitter Kristen Casey brought a close to the set, putting the Crimson on top, 25-21.
But the Quakers were not willing to give in easily, leading the second set by as many as seven points. Harvard fought to take the lead at 19-18, but Penn tied up the game and eventually won the set, 25-20.
The third set was tied at seven until the Crimson went on a 9-3 run to set the score at 16-10. Following a Quaker error that made the score 20-12, Harvard kept the steady lead, and sophomore middle blocker Teresa Skelly pounded home the final kill, earning the Crimson another 25-21 victory.
Penn came back in the fourth set and never allowed Harvard to take the lead, winning, 25-20, and once again tying the match at two wins apiece.
In the final set, the Quakers had a four-point lead at 11-7, but the Crimson was not willing to throw in the towel. Thanks to a 5-0 stretch—highlighted by two blocks from Fryhofer—Harvard gained the upper hand, 13-12. Casey sealed the deal with two consecutive kills, winning the set, 15-13.
“We didn’t make errors in those critical moments,” sophomore setter Natalie Doyle said. “It’s really a testament to how amazing our team’s chemistry is and to how amazing our team is going to be.”
The night was filled with bright spots. Doyle contributed 44 assists and 17 digs, and Fryhofer added seven kills and eight blocks. Skelly also supplied 12 kills and five blocks. Harvard totaled 13 blocks for the night, a second-high season best for the team. Casey ended the night by putting up 19 kills and 22 digs, a career-high in both.
“This win didn’t come from statistics, it came from us playing together,” Doyle said. “We really worked our butts off, and everybody stepped up.”
PRINCETON 3, HARVARD 2
In its first game of the weekend, the Crimson fell to the Tigers, 25-13, 25-21, 21-25, 23-25, 15-9. Harvard started out shakily against Princeton in the first and second sets, dropping both, but was able to reverse the tide of momentum and challenge Princeton, winning the third and fourth set.
“We kind of started off a little slow, not in our system,” Wu said. “We just weren’t playing Harvard volleyball for the first half.”