W. Volleyball Opens Season With Sweeps

Capitalizing on veteran leadership and freshman talent, the Harvard women’s volleyball team opened its season with three consecutive, straight-game victories in the New England Challenge last weekend.

In the Crimson’s season opener Friday night, Harvard (3-0) dispatched Loyola of Maryland, 30-12, 30-16, 30-18. On Saturday, Harvard defeated Colgate (30-14, 30-21, 30-18) and breezed by Lafayette (30-10, 30-6, 30-17) before rowdy home crowds at the Malkin Athletic Center.

“We were pleased with the way we played,” said Harvard Coach Jennifer Weiss. “It’s important to have everyone gel, and watching this tournament from the first match to the third, our chemistry is getting better every game.”

The young squad, which features only three upperclassmen, started two freshmen in each match of the Challenge.

Pernilla Schweitzer, the first women’s volleyball high school All-American in Ivy League history, lived up to her billing. The 5’11 outside hitter from Menlo Park, Calif. led the Crimson in both kills (13) and digs (12) against Loyola in her first collegiate game and finished the weekend with an impressive .451 kill percentage and 23 digs overall.

“The level of play was really high,” said Schweitzer, “but it is better and more fun that I ever expected.”

Fellow freshman Kaego Ogbechie posted a team-high .636 kill percentage with two solo blocks and three block assists in her first collegiate match. Ogbechie contributed offensively with devastating kills, but really shined defensively, compiling nine blocks and 21 digs for the weekend.

“We weren’t surprised about [the play of the freshmen],” Weiss said. “Through the preseason, we were able to evaluate their talent. Their level of play is very high.”