The Harvard women’s volleyball team put a difficult first weekend on the back burner as it captured its first two wins of the season in its second tournament of the campaign.
At the Holiday Inn Invitational in Ohio this weekend, the Crimson (2-4) defeated Wright State and Tennessee Tech but fell to West Virginia. Although still in the process of making adjustments as it readies itself for Ivy League play in two weeks, Harvard took this weekend as an important morale-booster.
“We played against some really competitive teams this weekend and rose to the occasion,” sophomore setter Erin McCarthy said, “We learned a lot about our team and felt like we played in a cohesive unit. We definitely played in a new and positive way compared to last weekend.”
HARVARD 3, TENNESSEE TECH 0
After splitting the two Friday matchups, Harvard ended the weekend off on the win column through another tight three-set victory.
Although the Golden Eagles (2-7) ended up dropping all three of its games this weekend, this match nevertheless was no walk in the park.
The Crimson and Tennessee Tech were evenly matched in the second set, with the Golden Eagles jumping out to a quick early lead. An impressive comeback led by the offense of Meyer allowed the Crimson to claw back into the set before ultimately emerging victorious at 25-23.
In set three, Harvard fell early on in the set before recovering and capitalizing on multiple errors by the Golden Eagle. Set three finished 25-21 in favor of the Crimson.
“We smoothed out some of our kinks and were just playing a lot more consistently,” McCarthy said. “We felt more comfortable on the court and made some important adjustments to help us end the weekend on a strong note.”
McCarthy, who has established herself as the team’s primary setter this season, notched 36 assists. The Manhattan Beach, Calif. Native looks to continue her role as an important offensive and defensive player for the Crimson, as she finished second in assists and second in digs her freshman season.
Capping off the weekend’s positive play was also impressive individual performances by some of the younger members of the team. Freshman hitter Mindie Mabry appeared in her second game of the season, scoring twelve points for the Crimson.
In addition, sophomore blocker Maclaine Fields won all-Tournament honors through an impressive 23 kills over the course of three games. The 6’3 anchor at the front of the Crimson line also contributed eight blocks in the tournament, bringing her season total up to 12.
WEST VIRGINIA 3, HARVARD 0
Against a tough Big 12 opponent in the Mountaineers, Harvard fell in straight sets and split Friday’s doubleheader. West Virginia (6-2) broke away offensively on all three sets, benefiting from 12 aces.
Six of those aces came in the first set, in which the Mountaineers mounted a 7-0 run at the start of the contest and a 5-0 to cap off the frame at 25-13.
The second set was a much more competitive back-and-forth battle, with the Crimson staying within arm’s reach of the lead before falling 25-21.
Harvard’s offensive output against West Virginia came largely in the hands of two players: sophomore hitter Grace Roberts Burbank and junior co-captain Christina Cornelius, who each finished with seven kills.
Set three saw a more lopsided performance in favor of the victors, as the Mountaineers took advantage of a 11-3 run to start the final set before finishing off the game 25-16.
In contrast to West Virginia’s high kill percentage of 0.304, the Crimson could only capitalize on less than 12 percent of their spikes. This made it difficult not only to put points on the board, but pressure against a Mountaineer backline that finished with 38 digs.
HARVARD 3, WRIGHT STATE 0
Capturing its first win of the season, Harvard shut out the Raiders (3-7) in the tournament’s first game.
All three sets were tight duels, as the Crimson narrowly edged out Wright State 25-23 in the first set, 25-21 in the second set, and 25-23 in the concluding set.
“We were super excited for our second weekend of play, especially with all the improvements we were making,” junior blocker Jocelyn Meyer said, “Key areas we focused on this tournament were on our defense and outside hitting. We were able to mesh more and quicken our offense.”
Meyer, a native of nearby Springboro, Ohio, was able to play in front of a small homecoming crowd in Akron. Against Wright State, Meyer finished with a .500 hitting percentage and 11 kills, both season highs.
Other strong performances came from Cornelius, who notched her first double-double of the season with 10 kills and 11 digs, as well as McCarthy, who had 41 assists, matching her career high.
The Crimson will stay home for its third week, taking on Massachusetts neighbors Boston College, Northeastern, and UMass Lowell in the New England Challenge. This will be the team’s final pre-Ivy League tournament before hosting Dartmouth on Sept. 22.
—Staff writer Henry Zhu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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