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Sometimes, victory is farthest away just when it seems to be closest. The Harvard women's volleyball learned this the hard way last night, losing a 2-0 lead and falling to Boston College 3-2.
Playing its first home game in more than a month, the Crimson responded to the friendly surroundings by roaring out to a two games to none lead.
The lady spikers won a close first game (15-13) and dominated the second (15-4). Halfway through the third game the Crimson were up 10-5 and appeared to be cruising to an easy victory. Just then, however, things began to fall apart.
"We began to play tentatively" junior Elissa Hart said.
In volleyball, tentativeness is tantamount to suicide, and the Crimson scored only three points the rest of the game, losing 15-13.
At the beginning of the fourth game, the Crimson seemed to have solved its woes. On the strength of a 9-0 run, Harvard quickly jumped to a 10-3 lead.
Again, however, the Crimson could not close things out. Harvard started playing tentatively again and everyone knows what playing tentatively in volleyball means.
The Crimson lost the fourth game by a score of 15-11, forcing the match to a decisive fifth set.
In intercollegiate volleyball, fifth sets are played in a rally format. This means that there are no side outs--on every volley a point is awarded.
The rally format makes for a feverish game's end and the Crimson and Eagles did not disappoint. The teams traded points until the score was tied at seven. At this point, it was clear that the first team to make a run would be the victor--that team was B.C. The Eagles won five of the next six points to go up 12-8.
Down to its last gasp, the Crimson rallied valiantly but could get no closer than two points, ultimately losing 15-12.
After the. game, the Crimson seemed mystified by its loss. Hart, who led the team in kills, attributed the loss to a lack of focus.
"We were there physically but it takes a little extra emotion to finish up a win" the junior said.
Conser Jennifer Bates echoed Hart's concerns.
"It was a good match but we couldn't close it out," said Bates, proving she can state the obvious as well as any coach.
Although the loss was a difficult one, the Crimson (7-7 overall) cannot wallow in misery. This weekend brings two critical Ivy League contests at home against Pennsylvania and Princeton.
Two victories would quickly erase the painful memories of last night's loss. Although snatching defeat from the jaws of victory can be painful, it can also prove to be an important character building experience.
As the great Joe Torre said, "If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger."
Hopefully, the Crimson will learn a lesson tonight's experience.
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