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Athlete of the Week: Bain Starts Junior Campaign with Triple-Double

Bain's Campaign
Junior setter Corie Bain (23), shown here on Saturday against Long Beach State, headlined Harvard's opening weekend performance with a triple-double in a straight-sets win over Rutgers on Friday night.

For followers of the Harvard women’s volleyball team, it would surprise few that, even during a weekend in which the team dropped two contests, junior setter Corie Bain still stood out—not just among her teammates, but across the entire campus.

In the team’s first game of the season, Bain showed Rutgers why she earned a unanimous bid to the All-Ivy first team in her sophomore season. The third-year star recorded a triple-double in her first game of the season, leading her squad to a straight-set win over the Scarlet Knights and earning her The Crimson’s Athlete of the Week honors.

Down four points in the second set of the match, Bain trotted back to the far side of the Malkin Athletic Center with the serve in her control. Seven straight times, Bain leaped and sent the ball over the net with such topspin as to immediately take the air out of any counterattack and put Rutgers on the defensive. Seven straight times, the Crimson scored, taking the second set and squashing any momentum the Scarlet Knights may have had.

“That was awesome and it really set the tone for the match,” co-captain Hannah Schmidt said. “We weren’t going to let [Rutgers] come back in control of that game.”

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None of this is new territory for the Manhattan Beach, Calif. native. She already holds the career Ivy League record for triples-doubles and double-doubles with almost two full seasons left to play. The five-time Rookie of the Week and Player of the Week in the Ivy League also holds the Harvard record for single-season aces in a season, with 50 in her freshman year.

Bain’s 11 kills, 24 assists, and 10 digs set the pace for the Crimson in its opener that featured several new faces. Two freshmen—Anna Uhr and Christina Cornelius—started for Harvard, while sophomores Paige Kebe and Caroline Labanowski received serious playing time after taking mostly bench roles in their first years with the team. Only five players who regularly saw playing time last year found the floor for the Crimson on Friday.

“Although we have four senior players who play consistently, I think that having a spread of players from all four classes really demonstrates [our] depth,” Schmidt said.

The team is without the services of senior Jennifer Shults this season after she was unable to rejoin the team for her final year of eligibility due to injury.

“We’re working through this,” co-captain Caroline Holte said. “We can’t tell yet how exactly this will impact our team.”

Notably absent from the Friday game was fellow junior Grace Weghorst, who dealt with nagging injuries last year on the team’s way to the Ivy League championship. She played sparingly during the 2015 Harvard Invitational this weekend, only seeing the court in one game.

Bain’s burden, therefore, was bigger than it usually was during the season, not being able to lean on the former All-Ivy first team selection Weghorst. On Saturday, she was still able to cause a little trouble for Illinois State, recording a double-double with 12 assists and 12 digs in a straight-set loss.

After two award-winning seasons with the team, the question now is how much can Bain improve on her already-high level of play. During the span of the Harvard Invitational, the 5’11” psychology concentrator also managed to record seven blocks at the net. It’s clear Bain’s play will be a key indicator of how well Harvard fares in the Ivy League this year.

“We’re striving to be a team that finishes games and finishes matches,” Schmidt said. “[Corie’s] serving run really got it going again and motivated the team to go all the way.”

Staff writer Kurt Bullard can be reached at kurt.bullard@thecrimson.com.

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