The Harvard men's volleyball tasted both victory and defeat in this week-end's Big Apple double-header.
Coming off its momentum from last Tuesday's thrashing of Dartmouth, the Harvard (8-4 overall, 1-1 EIVA) beat up on New York University Saturday afternoon, winning 3-1.
"We had trouble in the first set because we were not playing aggressive enough," freshman setter Evan Beachy said. "Then we got our act together."
One lesson that the young Harvard squad has learned from the veterans-passing and blocking is the formula for success.
"In the [NYU] game, we passed really well and blocked well, too," Beachy said. "That's how we win games-if we do those things well."
"When we pass well, the rest will always come together," junior outside hitter Ben Taxy said. "When we don't pass well, we just fall apart."
And Sunday, things just fell apart.
The Crimson suffered a humbling 3-1 defeat to Long Island University-South Hampton due to poor passing.
LIU came out strong to whip Harvard in the first and second sets of the afternoon (15-3 and 17-15). The Crimson rallied to win the third set, 15-4, but the Long Islanders drove the nail into the coffin with a 15-8 win in the fourth set.
"When we lost the second set, we were heartbroken since it was so close," Beachy said. "After that, our passing just broke down."
With a big match at Malkin Athletic Center against Princeton coming up on Saturday, you can bet that passing will be Harvard's focus.
"If we play like we did against NYU-passing well-then I think that we will do very well," Beachy said.
Taxy and Beachy recognized that the Crimson enters the upcoming bout with certain handicaps.
"We have a lot of young players, including myself, and we haven't had the opportunity to come together as a cohesive unit just yet," Taxy said.
"We've been rather inconsistent up to this point," Beachy said. "We have to keep an even keel in the [Princeton] match."
Another hardship the Crimson may face is 6'7" middle hitter Ned Staebler's ankle injury. Staebler-the senior co-captain-is expected to play with the injury.
The Princeton match and the March 5 rumble with Rutgers should be Harvard's toughest games of the season.
"The Princeton match is really big," Beachy said. "We're gonna need a lot of fan support."
The Crimson certainly will need to play better than it did against NYU and LIU-two teams that are ranked only in the middle of the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) standings.
And passing is the key.