And they're off and running. Again.
After a mini-slump--three losses in five matches--the Harvard women's volleyball team threw its weight around and soundly defeated the Tufts Jumbos (that's the squad's name), 15-10, 16-18, 15-10, 15-7, last night at the IAB.
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the Crimson's performance was the team's ability to halt potentially dangerous swings in momentum favoring Tufts. In each of the evening's four games. Harvard found itself trailing at one point but managed to regain the lead.
"We're working on trying to snap a situation where we're plummeting downhill before we find ourselves completely out of it," Harvard Coach Karyn Altman said after the match.
"I think that the team hung together and we had confidence in each other. That makes all the difference in the world," all-Ivy setter Margaret Cheng said.
Light My Fire
The most climactic game of the match proved to be the one that Harvard lost. A battle of nerves ignited the court when--after the score had reached 14-14--11 service rotations were required before the Jumbos could squeak out an 18-16 victory.
Harvard's most potent weapon against the competent Tufts squad took the form of sharp, angular spikes, mainstays of the Crimson attack all year. Strong hitting junior Ellen Schreiber, sophomore Nina Henderson and freshman Linda Lock hart--who has recently been brought up from the J. V. team--only hit the ball out of bounds four times in the four contests. Lock hart measures only 5 ft., 3 in., but she possesses fantastic jumping ability and has little trouble getting over the net.
"When we brought Linda up we intended to use her in the back row," Altman said, "but we quickly discovered that she could hit the ball."
Much of the credit given to the hitters belongs to All-Ivy setter senior Margaret Cheng. Cheng's value to the team cannot be overestimated. For the entire season. Cheng has consistently produced perfect sets, making it easy for the power hitters to prepare for the kill. Her contributions are performed so nonchalantly that they almost go unnoticed.
In addition to Cheng's setting. Altman said earlier in the season that "when Margaret is on the court you can notice the saves which just aren't made when she is on the bench."
In an effort to bolster the Crimson's blocking game--probably Harvard's least stable skill--Altman moved former strong hitter Anna Collins to middle blocker. Blocking is "something we haven't had a lot of time to perfect," Altman said. "Serving, setting, passing, and receiving came first. Anna has a lot of potential at blocker."
Harvard--now 6-3 on the year--travels across town to Northeastern tomorrow to compete in its third all-day tournament. Northeastern will probably prove to be the Crimson's biggest challenge so far this season.