Harvard women’s volleyball split a pair of Ivy League matches this weekend, defeating Cornell (4-15, 2-7 Ivy) on the road Friday while losing to Columbia (14-6, 6-4) the next day in New York. Both matches proved to be tight affairs, as the Crimson (7-15, 4-6) won the first one, 3-2, but lost the next match by an identical score.
“I think we had a really good showing against Cornell,” freshman Teresa Skelly said. “We came out strong. A lot of people stepped into their roles. We were dishing out wonderful sets and everyone came together really well. We fought really hard for that fifth set and won.”
“The game plan for this weekend was to focus on our team system,” co-captain Miyoko Pettit added. “We wanted to get our offense going and play with a strong defense to keep the other team out of the game. We tried to capitalize on the weaknesses of our opponents and put them out of the match so they couldn’t get anything going.”
COLUMBIA 3, HARVARD 2
After picking up a big win on Friday, Harvard suffered a harsher fate in the Big Apple on Saturday, losing to Columbia in five sets.
“Columbia may not have been our best night, but we worked hard as a team,” Skelly said. “If we can have more of that type of play then I think we’ll do well against Yale and Brown [next weekend]. We want to show Brown what we’ve been working for.”
Once again, the match represented a tight affair, with Harvard losing in the fifth set by a slim margin at 15-13. The Lions dominated the opening set, but the Crimson responded to capture a close second set. Harvard had its back to the wall yet again as it needed to win the fourth set to force a game-deciding final frame.
Although the team accomplished that goal, winning, 25-19, the Crimson faltered to give Columbia the five-set victory.
“We were definitely hoping to win this match in three, but we came out slow,” Skelly said. “We stepped up in a couple of the sets, and then the last set barely got away from us. It was a tough loss. We want to keep the good pieces of play going, bring them together, and capitalize on them next weekend against Yale and Brown.”
Skelly was quick to note the leadership of her captains this weekend as well.
“[Junior co-captain Anne Carroll] Ingersoll had amazing kills this weekend,” Skelly said. “She was unstoppable against Cornell. Great volleyball. Pettit works on keeping the team calm and focused, and she makes sure the simple plays are taken care of and that everything is executed properly.”
Strong play from junior Sandra Lynne Fryhofer, sophomore Taylor Docter, and sophomore Beth Kinsella helped Harvard to stay within reach of victory for much of the game against the Lions.
HARVARD 3, CORNELL 2
After dropping three consecutive league games from Oct. 15 to Oct. 22, Harvard seemed to have rebounded from its league woes, defeating Brown on the 23rd and then the Big Red again Friday. The team traded sets with Cornell, winning the first, third, and fifth.
“At the fifth set, we realized that we had let it get too close,” Skelly said. “We grabbed an early lead, and that gave us the momentum we needed. People were making great plays, so we forced them into a lot of errors. We knew we should have taken it in three sets, but we won in five sets, and a win is a win.”
Notable play from Docter and Ingersoll helped lead the Crimson past the Big Red.
Harvard needed to respond after losing a tight fourth set, 25-23, which tied the match at two sets apiece. The team managed to do just that, jumping out to a comfortable lead and finally taking the fifth set, 15-4.
Though its 1-1 record on a long road trip was satisfying, Harvard still felt an urge to improve.
“Going into the weekend, our team goal was to come out with an even record in conference play,” Pettit said. “Moving forward from here, we realize anything can happen in the Ivy League. Cornell and Columbia are our longest trips, so playing five sets against these schools can take a toll on us—but that’s not an excuse. We have to prepare better. Going into another weekend traveling, we know what we have to take care of, and we know what we have to do.”