Having won three straight and five of its last six contests, the Harvard women’s volleyball team will look to climb further towards the top of the Ivy League this weekend.
If the squad can pick up victories against league rivals Penn (10-9, 5-3 Ivy) and Princeton (9-9, 6-2 Ivy), Harvard (8-11, 5-3 Ivy) will ensure itself at least a share of second place in the Ancient Eight standings with four regular season games remaining.
The Crimson’s hot streak began against Penn nearly a month ago at the Malkin Athletic Center when Harvard battled back from a 13-6 deficit in the fourth set to take a five-set win.
That win marked the turning point for a team that started the 2012 season 2-8 and 0-2 in Ivy play.
The Crimson has since gone 5-1 in the Ancient Eight, climbing to a third-place tie with Penn.
While the Crimson may have a hard time catching Yale (12-5, 8-0 Ivy), Harvard is in position for its best finish since it won its first and only Ivy League title in 2004. Since then it has finished no better than fourth place in the Ancient Eight.
In last Friday’s comeback victory against Dartmouth, captain Taylor Docter posted her 10th double-double of the season, recording 15 kills—a match high—and 15 digs while freshman Caroline Holte had a career high nine blocks.
Since losing to Harvard on Sept. 29, Penn has gone 4-1, its only loss coming to the Bulldogs. In its last game, the Quakers went down two sets early to Princeton, but stormed back to win in five.
Junior Kristen Etterbeek had a match-high 19 kills and 10 digs and sophomore Emma White added 16 kills and 19 digs. White leads the Quakers on the season with 197 kills.
Princeton, on the other hand, started off the Ancient Eight schedule on a tear, but has struggled in the past three games, falling to the Quakers and Yale. Still, the Tigers occupy second place behind Yale. Senior Lydia Rudnick leads the Tigers with 286 kills on the season and is first in the Ivy League and 26th nationally with an average of 4.27 kills per set.
“We are excited to try and go out and beat Princeton,” Kristen Casey said. “Everyone is tough—that’s the way the Ivy League is.”
Earlier in the season, Princeton beat Harvard on the road in five sets. Crimson players have used the loss as motivation.
“We’ve been talking about it all week,” Holte said.
Against Princeton, the Crimson will focus on stopping Rudnick, but also on playing its own game, which means balancing the attack.
“There is definitely a sense that if we can stop her we can be successful.” Casey said. “Still, we must focus on our own side. At any moment we have five or six good offensive players on the court. That makes us dangerous.”