The Harvard women's volleyball team's 3-2 victory last night against the Rutgers Lady Knights was about killing, digging, and blocking with a vengeance.
Coming off a 0-3 loss to Yale last Saturday, the Crimson spikers (12-8, 4-3 Ivy) knocked off the Rutgers Lady Knights (11-14, 0-7 Big East) in a fiercely contested two hours and 15 minute match at at the Malkin Athletic Center. With the 15-5, 7-15, 15-5, 16-14, 15-8 win, Harvard improved its stellar home record to 7-1 last night.
Freshman Melissa Forcum was a major factor in Harvard's victory and led the offense with 14 kills and 14 digs. Sophomore Sarah Logan followed with 14 kills and three blocks and freshman setter Kate Nash had 52 assists.
"Melissa was hitting hard, passing well and playing really strongly," said Harvard coach Jennifer Bates.
Harvard dominated the first game with spirited play and won 15-5. It seemed that the Crimson would be a shoe-in for an easy three game sweep considering its high-level of play, but it was not so.
The Lady Knights gutsy style in game two made for long points, and they patiently waited for Harvard to self-destruct on these points. As a result, Rutgers found itself up 13-2 at one part of the second set. In volleyball, a point ain't over until it really is over, and Rutgers saved some seemingly impossible put-away shots by Harvard.
But volleyball is also a game of momentum shifts, and the Crimson was able to put together a late rally, thanks to some timely slams by sophomore middle hitter Elissa Hart (13 kills, four blocks) that brought the score to 13-7. However, the Lady Knights manage to stave off the Crimson assault and won 15-7.
Hart carried her own momentum into game three, playing strong defense up front and making a huge block that sparked a Harvard rally that carried the Crimson from 9-7 to a 15-9 win.
The longest and most hard fought game of the match was game four, and one had to hand it to the Lady Knights--they, and the group of raucous Rutger fans, wanted it badly. Two huge slams by co-captain Jennifer Jose and Hart and excellent defense by sophomore Lolita Lopez seemed to give the Crimson the edge early on.
But the Lady Knights had some murderous kills of their own and proved to be a very powerful team. The game went back and forth at 13-13 for some time until Rutgers found a hole in the middle of the Harvard defense and exploited it, winning 16-14.
"When things don't go your way, you hold back. That's what happened [in Game Four]," Bates said.
After the emotional play of the fourth game, game five was anti-climatic. Harvard controlled the game from the start and cruised to an easy victory 15-8 victory and emerged the ultimate winner of the best-of-five match.
The Crimson needs the momentum from last night's win to carry it into the first game of the Harvard Invitationals tonight at the Malkin Athletic Center.
"We haven't won the Harvard Invitationals yet and hope to do that this year," Bates said.
Jose's mind is on even bigger things in the future.
"We're really on a high right now," Jose said. "We're going to use it to build up for the Ivy Champioships."