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Women's Volleyball Downs Brown, Loses to Bulldogs

Senior Laura Mahon recorded 10 kills and added five digs in a 3-0 loss against Yale on Saturday. The defeat dropped the Crimson to 1-3 in the Ivy League.
Senior Laura Mahon recorded 10 kills and added five digs in a 3-0 loss against Yale on Saturday. The defeat dropped the Crimson to 1-3 in the Ivy League.
By Matthew L. Sundquist, Contributing Writer

The women’s volleyball team picked up its first Ivy League win of the season Friday against Brown before falling to Yale on Saturday in a pair of home games this weekend at Lavietes Pavilion.

Captain Suzie Trimble led the Crimson (6-10, 1-3 Ivy) with 19 kills against Brown, as Harvard turned in two come-from-behind wins in the opening two games of the match into a 3-1 victory.

The Crimson was unable, however, to recover from early deficits against Yale the following day and fell in straight games. Harvard fronted the Bulldogs an 8-0 lead in the first game and was never able to fully recover.

YALE 3, HARVARD 0

Yale (8-4, 2-1 Ivy) entered Saturday’s match having won four of its last five matches and hoping to extend its streak. Though Harvard was able to keep the score close throughout, the Bulldogs effectively shut down the middle of the net with 11 team blocks and won in straight games, 3-0 (30-21, 30-25, 30-18).

“Their block was a lot bigger,” senior Laura Mahon said. “We were very error-prone, and that cuts away at momentum very quickly.”

After falling behind 8-0 in the first game, Harvard called a timeout and returned to the court with a new strategy. With Trimble’s inside attack stifled by the Yale defense, the Crimson chose to rely instead on its outside hitters.

“We were trying to push it out to the pins,” coach Jennifer Weiss said.

It worked. The Crimson began to close the gap and brought the Yale lead down to 22-17 on an Alissa Flesher kill before the Bulldogs eventually pulled away to win the first game.

“We had a little bit of trouble starting in general,” Mahon said.

Harvard continued to adapt its strategy in the second game. Freshman outside hitter Mikaelle Comrie entered the second game and recorded two quick kills. The Crimson pulled within four late in the second game, but again it was not enough.

Mahon led the Crimson with 10 kills and a .267 hitting percentage. Sophomore libero Katherine Kocurek recorded 17 digs, and sophomore setter Lily Durwood posted 25 assists on the night.

Yale was led by sophomore Alexis Crusey, a 6’2 outside hitter, who recorded 22 kills. Kelly Ozurovich and Taylor Morgan kicked in 17 and 15 digs, respectively, for the Bulldogs.

Harvard finished the night with 27 errors, but did hold the lead three times during the match.

“When our ball control was on, we could play with them point for point,” Weiss said. “Yale is a good team. We get another chance to play them, and we’re looking forward to that.”

HARVARD 3, BROWN 1

The Crimson balanced strong offense from Trimble and Mahon with aggressive defensive play, racking up a team-record 103 digs and notching 10 team blocks en route to a 3-1 (30-28, 30-24, 26-30, 30-18) win over the Bears (2-11, 0-3 Ivy).

Trimble dominated the net with 19 kills and recorded a .372 hitting percentage despite playing through the pain of a partially torn knee tendon.

“She’s a trooper,” Weiss said. “She’s kind of learned to live with it.”

Meanwhile, Mahon recorded 18 kills and 19 digs, as the squad picked up its first league victory.

“It was huge,” Mahon said. “We all came out very fired up.”

The Crimson came from behind to win in the first two games, taking advantage of Brown’s defensive strategy.

“[Brown] only had one blocker up the middle,” Trimble said. “As a hitter, if there is only one block up, it’s a field day.”

Trimble took advantage of this defensive alignment early in the first game with her team trailing by one.

After conferring with Weiss on the bench, Trimble returned to action with two quick kills and put the Crimson up for good.

“She needed to get it quicker, and our setter needed to get it to her quicker,” Weiss said.

Harvard’s offense was also boosted by a career-high 66 assists from sophomore setter Lily Durwood. In addition, two other players had career performances: Flesher had 14 kills, and sophomore Chelsea Ono Horn recorded a personal- best 17 digs.

The penultimate game was characterized by a number of lead changes, a boisterous crowd, and strong defensive play, as Brown rallied to win, 30-26.

The Bears were led by freshman Megan Toman’s 18 kills and 24 digs and junior Natalie Meyers’ 57 assists, which set up the middle and outside hitters and allowed Brown to repeatedly challenge Harvard’s block.

The final game proved to be the Crimson’s strongest, as the team took an early 6-3 lead and never looked back, surging to a 30-18 victory.

Appropriately, Trimble ripped a kill to close the match.

Next up, the Crimson will travel to the Empire State to face Cornell and Columbia as the team enters the heart of the Ivy League schedule.

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