In a thrilling battle of neck-and-neck sets, the Harvard women’s volleyball team topped Dartmouth three sets to none Friday night. On the road, Harvard took three straight back-and-forth sets against the Big Green (7-10, 3-5 Ivy). It was a game of inches with each one of the Crimson’s set victories coming at a margin of no more than three points.
The victory for Harvard (11-6, 6-2) places them at second place within the Ancient Eight, tied with Princeton. Both programs are each only one game behind Yale in the Ivy League title race.
In the first set, the margin between the two teams did not surpass two points until a kill by junior captain Christina Cornelius gave the Crimson a 15-12 lead in the set. From that point on, Harvard kept a two or three-point cushion for the rest of the set, eventually taking it 25-23.
“We weren’t focused at first, but in the middle part of the set we really dialed in and that allowed us to take the set,” sophomore blocker Maclaine Fields said. “I think our passing was really strong, which allowed us to run a really strong offense.”
The second set proved more volatile, with each squad trading multiple groups of three point streaks early. The Crimson lept ahead 18-17 late in the set on a kill from freshman hitter Mindie Mabry and did not look back, holding that lead for the remainder. Harvard would take the set 25-22.
Dartmouth, however, refused to go down easy. The third set would prove the most challenging of the night for the Crimson.
The Big Green, hoping to avoid a straight sweep, came out of the gates strong, scoring four straight in the final set and taking a commanding 8-2 lead. With Harvard’s back against the wall in the third set, the Crimson scored four of the next five points to get back into the game.
Harvard slowly started chipping away at the Dartmouth advantage, eventually climbing back to regain control of the game with its first lead late in the set at 17-16. The Big Green would tie up the score multiple times, but the Crimson now had control for good. The final nail in the coffin came off another Mabry kill, giving Harvard the game 25-23 and the match in three straight sets.
“The whole time, point-by-point, it was a really close match, but overall we were definitely in control, focused and playing our game,” junior blocker Jocelyn Meyer said. “In the third set we really saw our hard work from practice and our calm and confidence really paying off.”
The Crimson slightly edged out Dartmouth 44 to 43 on kills. The Big Green scored 53 points to Harvard’s 52, perfectly describing the constant tug-of-war of the night.
Sophomore hitter Grace Roberts Burbank led the Crimson on the night with 17 kills and a .300 hitting percentage. Sophomore setter Erin McCarthy racked up another 40 assists, putting her season total at a team-leading 669.
On the defensive side for the squad, junior defensive specialist Anna Uhr continued her solid play, coming up with 16 digs. Uhr leads the team on the season with 184 digs.
This win gives Harvard the season sweep over Ivy League foe Dartmouth, as it topped the Big Green three sets to one in September. These victories in Ancient Eight play will prove important down the stretch for the Crimson, with a tight race atop the Ivy League that is sure to come down to the end of the season.
“We still have a real opportunity to grab the title or a share of the title,” Meyer said. “We want to be the team that can finish it off in three sets every time. Anything can happen in the Ivy League.”