The Harvard women’s volleyball team accomplished everything that it had to do this weekend to keep pace with the top teams in the Ivy League. The embattled squad first took down a pesky Brown unit that dealt the Crimson one of its two conference losses last season in a five-set nailbiter. The team then went on the next day to take down five-time defending conference champion Yale without the services of freshman Christina Cornelius, who is third in the conference in hitting percentage and first in blocks per set.
But for as critical a weekend that was for the Crimson, the team does not have the privilege to dwell on its past success.
With Dartmouth tied for the conference lead with Harvard and the Bulldogs and Penn lurking one game behind, any pace slower than winning out poses a significant risk to the team’s chances of repeating as Ivy League champions.
“It’s tough to keep the same level of excitement for every match, especially when we are playing teams at the bottom of the conference,” Kebe said. “But…losing to [Dartmouth] just shows us that no team should be taken lightly.”
Such a mantra will be needed as the team hits the road for the first time in Ivy League play to take on Columbia and Cornell to finish the first leg of its conference slate.
The team has not played an official away game this year.
The Crimson has only participated in three neutral site games, all three of which were losses in the Service Academy Challenge at the Pentagon.
Road play was a significant strength for Harvard last year, with its one road loss coming in the team’s first conference tilt against Dartmouth.
From there, the team won its final six road games of the year.
The year prior was a different story, however, with the team only managing four wins in 10 matches on the road.
“It is different being on the road,” Kebe said. “We do have a little less time to prepare…. But other than that, we try to treat each game the same.”
The Crimson is preparing to take on its New York foes without the services of Cornelius, who is still rehabbing from her ankle injury she incurred last weekend against Brown.
Cornelius’s presence is a big part of the Crimson gameplan, as she and co-captain Caroline Holte are first and second, respectively, in the Ivy League in blocks per game.
The duo’s presence at the net has caused headaches for opponents all season.
Critical to the Crimson’s push back to the top of the Ivy League has been the play of senior Kathleen Wallace, who made a huge leap going into her final year at Harvard.
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