In the first-to-three points structure that is college volleyball, games can last as short as one hour or as long as three hours.
The Harvard women’s volleyball team (9-5, 4-1 Ivy League) saw both extremes this weekend, as it finished as the beneficiaries of a long five-set victory against Penn (7-7, 2-3) while suffering a quick three-set loss against Princeton.
For the Crimson, Saturday’s loss to the Tigers (12-3, 5-0) was a difficult reminder of the degree of difficulty facing the team if it hopes to seek the Ivy title. Having defeated Ancient Eight opponents such as Dartmouth and Columbia with ease so far, Princeton demonstrated a much more challenging opponent, at the caliber that Harvard will most likely see in upcoming weeks.
PRINCETON 3, HARVARD 0
The Crimson was humbled by its Ancient Eight opponent, succumbing to a tough straight set-loss to Princeton Saturday night to mark its first Ivy loss.
“It was emotionally and physically draining that first night [after the Penn win],” junior blocker Jocelyn Meyer said. “That was our first long bus trip and we have had people in and out of practice being sick so that probably played into it too. I think the biggest thing that fell apart in that match was our serve-and-pass game, Princeton got at least eight aces on us, so we weren’t able to run off and play our match.”
In the first set, Princeton’s front-line offensive weapons in 6’4” sophomore hitter Maggie O’Connell and 6’3 junior middle blocker Nnenna Ibe tallied for a combined nine kills. The Tigers leaped ahead 11-4, and continued maintaining control throughout the set.
Despite two kills from junior co-captain Christina Cornelius, Harvard was limited to just 12 points in the set and largely depended on Princeton errors for its points.
“Princeton came out firing on all cylinders, which knocked us down,” senior hitter Paige Kebe said. “It took us too long to regain our footing and fight back.”
Set two saw rather similar results, as the Crimson tallied just 13 points in the set.
Unlike the first set however, Harvard managed to maintain an even score with the Tigers up to 10-10, but could not withstand another powerful Princeton run that saw this score widen dramatically to 25-13.
One positive takeaway for the Crimson was the featuring of a wider pool of players on the team.
Sophomore libero Isabelle Tashima saw her first action of Ivy League play, playing in two sets with an assist and a dig.
Harvard had its best performance in the final set, maintaining a tight score up to 16-16. Like the prior frame however, the Tigers buckled down at the tail end of the set. Launching a 7-2 run, Princeton finished the game in dominant fashion.
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