It was a bittersweet weekend for the Harvard women’s volleyball team, which fell to Columbia on Friday night but came back to defeat Cornell on Saturday to give Crimson coach Jennifer Weiss her 250th win on Senior Night at the Malkin Athletic Center.
On Friday, after a pregame ceremony with Harvard volleyball alumnae, the Crimson (9-14, 6-6 Ivy) played close sets against the Lions (12-9, 7-5) but could not hold on, dropping the game in four, 27-25, 19-25, 25-18, 28-26.
On Saturday night, Harvard swept the Big Red (7-16, 3-9) in three sets, 25-22, 25-18, and 25-19. The match marked the final home games for outside hitter Taylor Docter and setter Beth Kinsella, two seniors who have combined to make 170 appearances for the team and have cemented their place in Crimson history.
With two games left to play, Docter sits in eighth place in career kills with 963—12 out of seventh place. Docter also ranks in the top 10 all-time in service aces, attack attempts, and kills per set. Kinsella ranks sixth in all-time assists.
The duo added to their totals this weekend, with Docter recording 19 kills and Kinsella notching 43 assists.
“They have been leaders on and off the court,” Weiss said. “Beth has always been a very diligent worker, day in and day out. On the court, Taylor has got composure and confidence that is contagious. They have put a lot of time and effort in and it has paid off their senior season.”
Weiss—the longest tenured coach in program history with 20 seasons under her belt—kept quiet about her milestone before the game on Saturday.
“She didn’t even mention it, so I didn’t know that was coming,” Kinsella said. “It’s a great testament to all that she’s devoted to the program, and I’m really happy that it could fall on such a fun night.”
The last home game of the season was emotional for both seniors, who were honored in a pregame ceremony with their parents and families.
“Over the past four year, the MAC had become a home for us,” said Kinsella, who was joined by her parents and four older siblings. “Playing here [Saturday night] with my family and the crowd was really special, and taking care of Cornell in three games just made it that much more sweet.”
HARVARD 3, CORNELL 0
After Harvard fell to Columbia the previous night, Cornell was no match for a powerful Crimson offense led by freshman outside hitter Kathleen Wallace’s game-high 13 kills.
Harvard dropped four straight points to open the first set, but the team quickly found its offensive rhythm.
“We did a good job just taking it one point at a time,” said Kinsella, who combined with freshman setter Hannah Schmidt for 37 assists. “There were a few moments where we were down or it was really close, but we had this inherent confidence that we were steady and we were going to take care of it.”
In its second victory over the Big Red this season, Harvard relied on a strong defensive effort led by freshman middle blocker Caroline Holte, who had seven of the team’s 22 block assists.