Spectators at the Harvard women's volleyball match last night at the IAB could be excused for a feeling of deja vu. Just as in Wednesday's loss to Northeastern, missed serves and sloppy play marked last night's match.
But this time Harvard, now 7-4, played the conqueror, punishing Boston University's errors with powerful spikes and frustrating Terrier spikers with aggressive double blocking to take the match, 15-9, 15-9, 15-10.
Coco Trumbull and Rusti Baker led the Crimson attack. Baker unleashed a barrage of spikes with such power that the amazed Terriers could do nothing but watch them land. Trumbull's scores were softer but better controlled. Both appeared in high spirits throughout the evening.
In fact, high spirits were maintained by the entire Harvard team. Unlike in the Northeastern match, where players seemed isolated from their teammates, togetherness, support and communication proved the rule against B.U.
After every point, won or lost, Crimson players regrouped, congratulating each other for successful plays or reassuring each other after failures.
Coach Karyn Altman credited her team's vast improvement to this increase of team spirit. "A lot of it is just attitude. It's been a slow group of practices the last few days. We've been taking the emphasis off skills and putting it on togetherness," Altman said.
It didn't take long for the Crimson togetherness to pay dividends. Trailing after some tough breaks early in the first game, Harvard used four Baker spikes, some heads-up play by co-captain Marlene Schoofs and a few Terrier errors to out-score B.U. 9-1 and take an 11-5 edge.
After closing out the first game and spotting B.U. an 8-4 edge in the second, the Crimson struck again. Capitalizing on numerous Terrier mistakes, Harvard held B.U. to one point while scoring 11 to take the second game, 15-9.
The Crimson let up, allowing B.U. to reach a 7-4 advantage in the final game. But teamwork and communication paid off for Harvard as it went on an 11-3 spurt to capture the final game. It was a real team effort, with setter Margaret Cheng contributing a spike to match any made by either team's spiking specialists all evening.
Cheng was pleased with Harvard's improvement. "We had a lot of fun on the court. We're pulling out of our slump now," she said.
Whether or not Harvard has pulled out of its slump will be seen Saturday when the Crimson battles Brown and Boston College in a tri-match at Brown. Harvard split its first two contests with Brown and lost to Boston College in the first match of the year.
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