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This weekend, a visit to the Empire State yielded two league wins for the Harvard women’s volleyball team. By dispatching Cornell on Friday and Columbia on Saturday, the Crimson climbed into a tie for third place in the Ancient Eight and dispelled memories of a straight-set loss to Brown last weekend.
HARVARD 3, COLUMBIA 2
Freshman outside hitter Paige Kebe recorded six of her career-high 22 kills in the decisive fifth set, and the Crimson (10-4, 3-2 Ivy) held on to beat Columbia (7-7, 3-2) after conceding a 2-1 set lead in New York City.
“The defense and the setters were putting the ball right where it needed to be,” Kebe said. “And the bench did a great job of helping me out with shot selection. I just tried to play with intensity.”
After pulling away to win the third set, 25-19, Harvard seemed on the verge of victory. But the Lions used an efficient attack to win the fourth frame and push the fifth to a 15-all tie. Ultimately, a kill by sophomore setter Corie Bain and a Columbia serving error gave Harvard the win.
By the middle of the second set, Kebe had equaled her previous match-high of eight kills. She had set this record only the day before against the Big Red.
“Her confidence from the game versus Cornell definitely carried over,” Bain said. “She was able to be our big gun in a tight game, which I am so proud of as her teammate and setter.”
Bain also performed at a high level. For the second consecutive match, she finished with a triple double, notching 43 assists, 12 digs, and 16 kills.
The game began with a competitive first frame that climbed up to a 22-all deadlock. Harvard regained the lead after two attacking errors by the Lions, and claimed the set with a kill by junior outside hitter Jennifer Shults.
“We knew that we could win the game against Columbia,” said sophomore outside hitter Grace Weghorst. “The confidence that we had in our team’s ability…[pushed] us through the fifth set.”
HARVARD 3, CORNELL 0
In a match that was never in doubt, Harvard rode a strong defense to a straight set win over the Big Red in Ithaca, NY. No Cornell player (3-12, 0-5) topped eight kills as the home team finished with a .077 hitting percentage.
“We played our system and we knew what to expect going into the game because we had studied their hitters,” Weghorst said. “I think that’s what really made the difference.”
Although Cornell challenged Harvard in the second set, the Crimson managed to squeeze out of a 21-all tie thanks to kills from Bain and senior middle blocker Caroline Walters. The third frame was quite different as Harvard fell behind only once—on the first point of the set.
For the Crimson, the victory followed a disappointing 3-0 loss last weekend to a Brown squad that had yet to celebrate a conference win.
“The victories allow us to have a lot of motivation to push hard this week and next weekend,” Bain said. “I couldn’t be more excited.”
Bain topped the team with 11 kills en route to a triple double. She also led the Crimson with 15 digs and was second with 12 assists.
Harvard set the tone of the match with the opening points. With a flurry of kills, the Crimson jumped out to an 11-3 advantage and forced Cornell to play catch up from the get-go.
“We are definitely coming into our element and…starting to work well together as a team,” Kebe said. “I can’t wait to see what is in store for us as we finish the first round of Ivy play.”
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