Friday night, Harvard (9-13, 4-6 Ivy) was swept by Yale (15-4, 9-1), but on Saturday night, the Crimson turned the tide, shutting out the Bears (11-11, 3-7) in three straight games.
HARVARD 3, BROWN 0
The Crimson came out strong on Saturday, taking the match 28-26, 25-18, 25-21.
“I am very proud that we stayed aggressive for the first game, second game, and third game,” senior Kathryn McKinley said. “Especially since, as the game goes on, you get a little scared. You get a little nervous, and I don’t think that happened to us at all. I think we got better as time went on.”
Harvard’s emphasis on boosting the score on its own merit, in addition to Brown’s errors, was evident on Saturday. The Crimson hit for .304 against the Bears as opposed to its .147 attack percentage against Yale the previous night.
McKinley led the game with 17 kills, and sophomore Mikaelle Cormie followed close behind by contributing 15.
The Crimson’s front row defense stepped up its game. After posting only one block on Friday, the corps posted six on Saturday.
“Defense has always been one of our stronger things for our team,” freshman Christine Wu said.
In the first game, the two teams traded points until Harvard was jump-started by junior co-captain Kat Kocurek’s ace at 7-6. Kocurek posted three aces on the night.
Seven ties later, the Crimson utilized a climactic McKinley kill to defeat the Bears 28-26 in the closest game of the match.
Junior co-captain Lily Durwood nailed an ace to start the second frame, which was marked by 15 ties and two lead changes. With Harvard leading, junior Chelsea Ono Horn maintained the Crimson’s service game, sending out two straight aces to start a 6-0 rally that gave Harvard the 25-18 win.
The Crimson kept the momentum going in the third, quickly pulling ahead 12-4 and forcing Brown to use a timeout. The timeout gave new life to the Bears, allowing them to even the score at 16-16. Harvard boosted its offensive efforts in the final nine points to hold onto the shutout, taking the final frame 25-21.
YALE 3, HARVARD 0
Last time the Crimson played the Bulldogs, the team battled hard but was edged out by the league-leaders in a devastating fifth game. Fast forward to Friday night, and Harvard was looking for revenge.
“We came into this being very, very diehard excited and ready to win,” McKinley said.
Despite its desire for vengeance, the Crimson could not come out on top, let alone match the previous game’s efforts, falling 25-14, 25-16, 25-19.
In the first game, Yale took an early lead at 6-1. Harvard then came alive, pulling within two of the Bulldogs at 9-7. But Yale was not ready to give up the lead, forcing two Crimson timeouts and ultimately winning the first game 25-14.
Despite a disappointing first game, Harvard would not lay down without a fight in the second. The first point of the second belonged to the Crimson, which gained a lead in the match for the first time. But Yale again came out with the win, 25-16.
At the start of the third game, Kocurek took over at libero, contributing seven digs to the effort.
The strategic reconfiguration did not reverse the game’s momentum, however, as Harvard fell to the Bulldogs, 25-19, to give up the shutout.
McKinley nailed 11 of those kills and boasted a .267 attack percentage.