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M. Volleyball Falls in Close Battle With Springfield, 3-2

By Scott A. Martin

Losing big games is a frustrating experience.

Just ask the Harvard men's volleyball squad, which fell 3-2 on Wednesday night's match at Springfield. Harvard  2 Springfield  3

The Crimson seemed to be sleeping in its first match--Springfield dominated 15-2. However, Harvard woke up and took charge to win the second match 15-4 and the third 15-7

"We really killed them in the second and third matches--I think that we convincingly beat them," Ben Taxy said.

But Springfield wasn't convinced just yet.

Springfield abruptly halted the Crimson's momentum to sweep the fourth match 15-6 and the fifth round 15-11.

What went wrong for the Crimson?

Well, Harvard was struck by lightning before the match even started--setter Evan Beachy was absent from action because of family matters.

Luckily, Abbas Hyderi showed up to fill Beachy's shoes. However, the situation was still a shaky one.

"It was a very hard adjustment for us--especially since the setter is a team's foundation. Everyone is used to having [Beachy] in the position," Hyderi said.

The tentative arrangement definitely took its toll on the Crimson's play--especially its passing. Harvard's passing inconsistency explains its erratic performance.

"Our passing was really on in the second and third matches--so we won," Hyderi said. "In the first, fourth and fifth matches, we didn't pass well--so they jumped all over us. It was a very frustrating match."

But it was Springfield's overpowering serves that finally broke the Crimson's back.

Notably, springfield boasts one of the nation's premier servers. Springfield's Javier managed to run eight consecutive points on Harvard in the fourth game--five of his serves were aces.

"Javier's serving definitely put us on the defensive. He may have affected our passing," Hyderi said.

In spite of Harvard's poor passing and Javier's exemplary serving, the Crimson hung with Springfield into the rally-point match.

But the Crimson failed to close the deal...again.

"We systematically lose the rallypoint games badly. We just can't keep ourselves together to win the big ones," Taxy said.

This year's Crimson certainly has lost more than its share of fifth-round bouts. In crucial rally-point games, Harvard fell to Rutgers, St. Francis, Vassar (twice)--and now to Springfield.

The Springfield match was a particularly big match for the Crimson because the two teams were tied in the league entering the contest.

"Considering the circumstances, the loss was a big let-down--particularly for myself," Hyderi said.

Nonetheless, the Crimson is not doubting its own ability.

"We are as good as or better than each of the teams that we lost to in rally-point matches--and most of those teams are ranked in the top twenty," Taxy said.

The frustrated squad marches on to the Concordia Tournament this Saturday--but it's worried.

"The teams in Saturday's tournament are not as high-caliber as the ones we've faced recentl," Hyderi said. "To win, we simply need to do three things--pass well, block well, and have confidence in our ability."

These three things may ensure a victory on Saturday, but will they secure the Ivy League crown for the volleyballers?

"Winning the Ivy League is our ultimate goal--on April 2 at Cornell, we'll have our chance," Hyderi said.

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