No Relief for Stumbling Crimson

Errors stymie progress at Yale, game one win at Brown doesn’t give momentum

Joseph L. Abel

Co-captain and libero Elizabeth Blotky, shown in earlier action, had 21 digs in the Crimson’s 3-1 loss to Brown Saturday.

The Harvard women’s volleyball team went into this weekend with high hopes, looking to turn its season around and win its first two matches in the Ivy League.

But the Crimson (3-13, 0-6 Ivy) came up short, losing 3-0 at Yale (13-2, 4-1) Friday night and following up with a 3-1 loss at Brown (6-10, 3-2) Saturday afternoon.

Harvard has not been able to find any kind of winning rhythm, having lost five straight and 12 of its last 13.

“When our defense is on, our offense is off, and when our offense is on, our defense is off,” said junior co-captain and setter Sarah Cebron. “If we could get those two things to coordinate, we’d be awesome.”

The Crimson will host Columbia and Cornell next weekend in an attempt to break out of its 0-6 League slump.

“Our team needs to work on a lot of stuff with maintaining mental composure,” said co-captain and libero Elizabeth Blotky. “We’re home finally this week; we’ve been on the road a lot, so hopefully we’ll be able to come out strong this weekend after a good strong week in practice.”


Things were looking up for Harvard with a first-game victory in Providence, R.I., but the Crimson couldn’t hold on, falling to Brown in the next three frames (30-28, 18-30, 31-33, 26-30).

“Going into Brown if anything we were going to use our frustration to drive to win and beat [them],” Blotky said.

In the third game, the Bears took an early 10-6 lead and led much of the way until Harvard made a run. With the help of sophomore middle hitter Suzie Trimble and three kills in six points to tie it at 29, the Crimson pulled ahead for game point at 30-29.

But because of two attack errors in the final four points, Harvard was unable to pull out a victory.

Earlier in the match, the Crimson had its chances. After winning the first game, Harvard dropped the second in a blowout but continued to show some fight.

“We felt like Brown was a very beatable team,” said junior co-captain setter Sarah Cebron. “We had moments, but we were really inconsistent.”

The Crimson nursed a narrow lead throughout much of the first frame, until the Bears tied it up at 11 thanks to a kill from Brown middle hitter Julie Mandolini-Trummel, one of five Bears with double digit kills.

But the Crimson came back fighting with three straight kills, sending it on its way to 17 kills on .220 hitting for the frame.

Blotky helped the cause with seven of her game-high 21 digs.

“All week in practice, [Blotky] definitely stepped it up,” Cebron said. “I think this weekend was probably her best weekend ever.”

The battle continued until junior middle hitter Katie Turley-Molony put the game away with her seventh kill of the match on an assist from Cebron.

“I think Brown was really surprised in the first game because our record is not that impressive,” Blotky said. “But then they came out stronger in the second game.”

In the second frame the Bears set the pace by pulling out to a 5-2 lead. Aided by setter Leigh Martin and her match-high 65 assists, Brown had 17 kills on .259 hitting and left the Crimson in the dust.

Brown led the entire fourth frame, but the Crimson showed signs of life when Turley-Molony notched one of her 13 kills to pull Harvard within one at 25-24. The Bears answered with three straight points, however, and closed the Crimson out for good.

“I think that we are playing better as a team than we have been,” Blotky said. “There’s a lot of room for improvement. I think we should beat a lot of these teams we’re losing to.”


When you begin the season 0-4 in the league, there is no room for error.

Although this was at the forefronts of the players’ minds as they walked onto the court in New Haven, Conn., they were unable to keep from making mistakes, including 31 errors on .015 hitting and six missed serves.

“We aren’t any worse than any other team, “ Blotky said. “It just comes down to making fewer unforced errors and maintaining a consistent level of play in matches. We broke down [Friday] and [Saturday].”

Harvard started off game one with a 12-6 lead, but the Bulldogs answered with a run of their own, rattling off six kills to tie it at 16 apiece.

The Crimson took an 18-16 lead on a kill by Turley-Molony, but Yale responded with four in a row to take the lead and keep it en route to a 30-24 win.

Harvard did not fare any better in the second frame. Though the Crimson got as close as 6-5, kills from Courtney Hall and Renee Lopes and key Crimson hitting errors ensured that the Bulldogs never trailed in the 30-18 victory.

“We really needed to maintain consistency throughout the entire game,” Blotky said. “We can be a better team, but we have to do that through consistency.”

In the third frame, Harvard jumped out to a 4-0 start. But the Crimson hit a poor -.060 with 15 attack errors overall, giving the Bulldogs the lead at 14-13. Despite hitting only .023, Yale never looked back in its 30-23 win.

“We let both games slip based on our unforced errors,” Blotky said. “We need to work on this both individually and as a team.”