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The Harvard volleyball team (11-9, 4-6 Ivy) beat Penn (7-13, 3-7) on Friday, 3-1, before falling to Princeton (15-7, 8-2) the next night by the same score. The Crimson hosted both conference matchups.
“We just made some unforced errors, and we can’t do that in the scoring,” Harvard coach Jennifer Weiss said. “We fought hard in game three and came back, and that’s what we’re capable of. We can’t play catch-up—we have to go strong from the beginning.”
PRINCETON 3, HARVARD 1
In the first game, the Crimson took an early advantage with a 3-0 run, but the Tigers came back with a 5-0 stretch and took the lead. Harvard regained a two-point edge after an ace by co-captain middle blocker Sandra Lynne Fryhofer to bring the score to 11-9. Princeton came back at 15-14 and kept the lead to close out the match. The Crimson was not far behind for most of the game, but after another 5-0 spurt from the Tigers–putting them ahead 23-18–the visitors sealed their victory over Harvard at 25-23.
“I don’t think the problem necessarily today was the lineup, but something wasn’t clicking,” junior Taylor Docter said. “I think we didn’t come out with as much excitement as [the Penn game].”
Princeton got the lead early in the second game at 7-2 and ran with it, notching another win at 25-13.
But something changed in the third game for the Crimson. After a Tiger service error with the score tied at two, Harvard went on a 3-0 run and never looked back. The Crimson finished the game with a 5-0 streak, with the score at 25-17. Harvard sealed its victory with an ace by Fryhofer to push the set into another game.
Princeton did not seem fazed by its loss in the third game, coming back with a 25-16 win to put the Tigers on top for the match.
“We had a really good third game and some good play overall, but we just didn’t execute in key moments—we just made too many errors,” Fryhofer said. “Princeton is a good team, and we just didn’t come out with good enough consistency.”
Docter led the Crimson with 14 kills, eight digs, and two blocks for the night. Freshman outsider hitter Kristen Casey contributed 15 digs, seven kills, and two blocks. Sophomore right side Erin Cooney, sophomore middle blocker Teresa Skelly, and Fryhofer each added six kills to the game. Co-captain Christine Wu notched 18 digs, bringing her to 1,752 career digs, which is one away from tying for third place in the Ivy League record books.
HARVARD 3, PENN 1
Sporting pink scrunchies and shoelaces, Harvard hosted the Dig Pink game for breast cancer awareness against the Quakers on Friday night. The Crimson played strongly, coming out on top with sets of 25-20, 26-24, 22-25, and 25-20. Contributing to its success was junior setter Beth Kinsella, who returned for the first time from a broken finger suffered earlier in the season.
“[The Penn game] was exciting, we had a lot of fans here,” Docter said. “[Kinsella] was back for the first time and she completely lit it up. It was one of the best I’ve ever seen her play, which is incredible considering she just came off of injury.”
Docter tied her season best of 18 kills, adding 15 digs for her second double-double this season. Sophomore setter Natalie Doyle got her sixth double-double of the season with 18 assists and 13 digs. Fryhofer tallied six kills and six blocks—two of which were solo blocks—while Skelly posted eight kills and five blocks.
Wu dug 25 balls, setting a new match-high and causing Penn to have a meager .085 hit percentage–the second-lowest percentage of a Harvard opponent for the season. Casey contributed to the defense with 21 digs and added seven kills and four blocks to the match.
“[The game] was awesome. It was one of the first times we really, really clicked,” Docter added. “We have a completely new lineup and … it worked really well.”
The Crimson started the first game off with a lead at 8-2, but the Quakers sparked an 8-3 run and tied the game at 18. Harvard took a four point lead following a kill from Casey at 23-19 and sealed its victory with a final kill from freshman middle blocker Caroline Walters for a 25-20 win.
In the second game, the Crimson and Penn switched between the lead multiple times. Penn came out with the advantage at 23-21 as a result of a Harvard service error. The Crimson came back to win, 26-24, after an ace by Wu and a kill by Docter.
The third game began with a Crimson lead at 6-4, but due to a few untimely errors, the Quakers took the lead at 8-13. Docter sparked a 4-0 run with a kill to tie the score at 19, but it wasn’t enough for Harvard to overcome Penn’s momentum. The Quakers showed that they were not finished with a 25-22 win.
After being pushed into a fourth set, the Crimson started out with a 3-0 lead. Harvard kept its lead by as many as nine points at 17-8, with a final kill by Docter to ensure the Crimson victory, 25-20.
“I thought we had a great game against Penn, we came out really strong, slipped up a little bit in the third game, but overall, I thought we had a really great team performance,” Fryhofer said.
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