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Women's Volleyball Shuts Out Columbia and Cornell in Final Home Slate

For the first time in four years, the seniors on the Harvard women’s volleyball team have no more games left at the Malkin Athletic Center. The senior class, which helped the team a 56-38 record over the past four years, played its final two matches at Harvard this weekend.

And just as the four seniors emerged victorious in their first game in the MAC in 2012, so did they on Friday and Saturday. Led by co-captains Caroline Holte and Hannah Schmidt, the Crimson (13-9, 9-3 Ivy) swept both games this weekend, beating conference opponents Columbia (7-14, 5-7) and Cornell (6-16, 2-10) in straight sets.

“It doesn’t really feel like it’s over because we have another weekend,” senior libero Sindhu Vegesena said. “We’re going to take tonight to celebrate, but come Monday, we’re going back to the gym...getting ready to wrap it up.”

HARVARD 3, COLUMBIA 0

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Columbia’s fan section filled the MAC with boisterous chants early in Saturday’s matchup.

But after the first few points, the cheering quickly died down.

Upon dropping to a 4-3 deficit early in the first set, the Lions did not pull even with the Crimson again until the third set. The final period was characterized by the two squads trading points early, Columbia gaining their first lead since their 3-2 advantage in the opening minutes of play at 9-8.

However, the last-ditch comeback effort was effectively stopped with a 7-2 run in the third period, capped off by senior outside hitter Kathleen Wallace’s huge kill to put the Crimson up 15-11. In her fifth double-double of the season, Wallace led the team in kills with 12, nearly doubling the next highest total. She also was second in digs with 12 behind Vegesena’s 15.

The play of the seniors highlighted the game. Just over 43 percent of the team’s 62 digs came at the hands of Vegesena and Wallace, and Schmidt was second on the team in assists with 16. Holte finished the game with seven kills.

“We played really well. We worked hard in practice and tried to add a few things to our offense and defense,” Harvard coach Jennifer Weiss said. “The seniors stepped it up [and] had a really good weekend. Everybody...did what they’re supposed to do. It’s just great when they get a rhythm.”

Junior setter Corie Bain was a dig away from a double-double with nine and a team-high 18 assists. Freshmen middle blockers Christina Cornelius and Jocelyn Meyer had identical stat lines with seven kills and four block assists each.

HARVARD 3, CORNELL 0

Down 24-21 at the near the end of the third set, the Crimson fought back against the Big Red to win five straight points and clinch their first Ivy League win since losing to Princeton on Halloween. The entire set was traded back and forth between the two teams with nine ties and three lead changes throughout.

A 9-0 run early in the second set proved to be a catalyst for Harvard, as Cornell was not able to gain a lead or tie the game until the third set.

“All the Ivy matches are so close,” Weiss said. “So they did a good job of working hard all week and putting some new things into our system.”

Vegesena was solid defensively with a team-high 13 digs, bringing her season total to 382. She is only 25 digs away from the highest single-season total of her career with a pair of weekend games remaining. The Harvard attack was balanced throughout the contest as well, as Wallace, Cornelius, and Bain tied for the team lead with seven kills. Bain added a double-double with her 18 assists and 10 digs.

“We did great,” Vegensena said. “I think it shows in the scores. We beat both teams in three. We came back against Cornell in the third set. It was 24-21, and we came back to win 26-24…. We fought hard.”

Harvard now enters the last weekend of the season with a one-game lead over two other teams in the Ivy League.

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