Women's Volleyball Atop Ivy League After Weekend Wins

Robert F Worley

The women's volleyball team, shown here in earlier action, swept Yale and recorded a 3-1 victory over Brown to continue a seven-game undefeated streak.

This Halloween weekend, the Harvard women’s volleyball team’s performance scared its opponents and every other team in the Ivy League. 

With away wins over Brown and Yale, the Crimson climbed into first place among the Ancient Eight. In each of its victories, which furthered a seven-game winning streak, Harvard (15-4, 8-2 Ivy) held the two opponents to a combined .055 killing percentage.

“The Ivy League is a long road for volleyball because we play every team twice,” sophomore setter Corie Bain said. “There is tremendous room for improvement throughout the season, and we have done an unbelievable job of working towards our end goal [of] an Ivy League title.”


The Crimson left Lee Amphitheater in New Haven on Saturday night having done something that no Ancient Eight team had done in 36 games—win three sets against the Bulldogs (12-7, 8-2) on their own turf. While in these 36 games, teams couldn’t win three sets out of five, the Crimson took it one step further, beating Yale in straight sets to complete the season sweep.


“I think our confidence has grown with each win, which allows us to keep playing better and better,” said senior middle blocker Caroline Walters. “We have worked very hard, and it shows in our play.”

As Harvard hung onto a 23-22 lead in the second set, the game seemed headed for a replay of the two teams’ first match-up in early October, when the Crimson battled to a 3-2 victory. But a kill from junior setter Hannah Schmidt and an attacking error from Yale delivered the set, and the momentum, directly into Harvard’s hands. 

In the third set, the Crimson jumped out to a 5-2 lead and never looked back. The margin ultimately ballooned to 25-15, when junior middle blocker Caroline Holte sealed the victory with a kill. 

Coming into the match, the Bulldogs had run through the last seven games of Ancient Eight play with impressive dominance, dropping only one set during this period. Yale’s last loss of any kind came against Harvard at the beginning of October. That one came in front of a friendly crowd at the Malkin Athletic Center, but this weekend, the Crimson proved that hometown advantage alone couldn’t account for its success.

“The crowd [at Yale] was full of energy, which I think helped fuel our fire,” Walters said. “That being said, we definitely quieted the crowd with our play.”


When Brown middle blocker Payton Smith captured the first set for her team with a block, Crimson players could be forgiven if they experienced flashbacks to October 4. On that day, Harvard conceded the first set to the Bears on the way to a surprising 3-0 home defeat.

But a month later, the Crimson had different plans. Harvard tied the game with a dominant second set, took the lead with a comeback in the third, and captured victory with a late surge in the fourth.

Overall, Harvard forced the Bears into a .018 killing percentage. While Harvard recorded 26 more kills than errors, Brown’s margin was just three. 

“Our plan on defense was to take away their strong shots with the block,” Walters said. “I think everyone really did their jobs and stayed discipline in their play on defense. 

Despite a 1-1 set score, the Bears looked like the superior team at the beginning of the third set. Not even a Harvard timeout could forestall the Bears, who raced to a 10-1 advantage.

The lead would not last as the Crimson employed efficient defense to fight to a tie at 20-20 and again at 23-23. From there, a Brown attacking error and a kill from freshman outside hitter Paige Kebe handed the set to Harvard. The Crimson would never fall behind during the remainder of the match.

“We are not done,” Bain said. “I know each of us will walk in the gym Monday ready to work as hard as we have the past few weeks.”


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