WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Crimson Fails to Maintain Winning Ways

The Harvard women’s volleyball team started off its 2011 season on a tear, winning seven of its first nine contests. But in Ivy League play, the Crimson could not keep its momentum going, dropping nine of 14 Ivy League contests en route to a 12-12 overall record.

“We actually had one of the best starts that we’ve had for a while. [In] our preseason tournaments, we did really well,” co-captain libero Christin Wu says. “Then when the Ivy League games rolled around, we just kind of lost that consistency.”

“Also, it was unfortunate we had several injuries [to] a couple of our starters,” Wu adds. “We didn’t have a set lineup for a lot of the season, so that made a big difference in our wins and losses.”

Junior outside hitter Taylor Docter led the Crimson attack, tallying a team-high 331 total points.  Her average of 3.05 kills per set ranked Docter eighth in the Ivy League, and her consistency as an outside hitter earned her second-team All-Ivy recognition.

“She is one of our best hitters, one of our go-to hitters, [and] when we’re down, we look to her to rip us a kill,” Wu says.

Due to her on-court performance and off-the-court leadership, Docter was named captain for next season.

The other rising seniors, setter Beth Kinsella and defensive specialist and outside hitter Olivia Staffon, played important roles for Harvard as well. Kinsella, the top-scoring setter on the team, led the squad with 580 assists in 2011, good for 8.66 per contest. Meanwhile, Staffon’s consistency helped her earn a team-best hitting percentage of .333.

Underclassmen played a large role on a squad composed of two seniors, three juniors, three sophomores, and five freshmen.

Right behind Docter in offensive production was freshman outside hitter Kristen Casey, who finished second on the team in points (287), kills (247), and kills per set (2.71).

In addition to her impressive offensive statistics, Casey ranked third in digs with 245.

Sophomore setter Natalie Doyle also turned in an impressive 2011. Doyle finished second on the squad in assists (366), assists per game (4.02), and digs (257).

But the team will be graduating two of its top players in Wu and middle blocker Sandra Lynne Fryhofer.

While Fryhofer finishes her Harvard career with over 700 kills and 250 blocks, Wu will go down as one of the most-decorated Harvard volleyball players in history. The libero ends her career with a total of 1,841 digs, a school record and the second most in Ivy League history, plus All-Ivy recognition in each of her four seasons.

“Our seniors were phenomenal leaders,” Doyle writes in an email. “Christine Wu and Sandra Lynne Fryhofer were both starters and captains and will be sorely missed.”

The Crimson came out of the gate strong in 2011 and sat at 7-3 at the start of Ivy League play. But a three-game losing streak, including two losses against fellow Ivy contenders Dartmouth and Princeton, slowed its early-season momentum.

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