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The Harvard women’s volleyball team took to the Malkin Athletic Center for one final tune-up before it starts its Ivy League schedule this past weekend. The Crimson split the weekend series, opening up with a win against Boston College, 3-2, and falling to Northeastern on Saturday, 3-1.
“We struggled a little bit,” sophomore Christina Cornelius said. “Our problem was that we didn’t start off as strong as we wanted to, but I think we can only go up from here. Now we’re going to get back into practice, and work as hard as we did heading into [Friday].”
NORTHEASTERN 3, HARVARD 1
Harvard (2-7) took a slight step back Saturday, losing to Northeastern (8-4) for the first time since 2013.
The Crimson was plagued with slow starts to its sets all night. Trailing the first set 16-9, Harvard managed to rally back to a 25-23 win. But the team wasn’t able to continue to dig itself out of its own holes, dropping the next three sets after falling behind quickly in each of them.
Hannah Fry led the Huskies’ attack on the night, finishing with 13 kills, one more than fellow teammate Brigitte Burcescu.
Freshmen saw increased playing time in the team’s final match before its bid for a third-straight Ivy League title begins on Friday against Dartmouth. With the departure of a large senior class, the underclassmen are a vital part of the Crimson’s chances of winning the Ancient Eight.
“The freshmen are doing a great job.” Cornelius said. “We have a super strong freshman class, and they play a really big role on the team, so by having them play in the preseason, we’re getting them ready for the Ivy League.”
The Crimson will look for the freshmen to make an impact not just on the attacking side, but step up as part of the defensive effort as well. Rookie Erin McCarthy did so in the contest against the Huskies, leading the team with 13 digs.
HARVARD 3, BOSTON COLLEGE 2
Following a rocky stretch at the Beantown Challenge and the Baden Invitational hosted by Long Beach State, it looked that the Crimson was going to continue its slide after it found itself down two sets to one to the Eagles.
But behind a kill and ace from senior Corie Bain, along with two kills from rookie Grace Roberts Burbank, Harvard jumped out to a quick 11-5 lead in the fourth set. After the Eagles (5-5) tied the set at 13 points apiece, the Crimson would go on a 9-2 run and did not look back for the rest of the frame to force a tiebreaking set.
In the final set, it was the Eagles that snatched an early 5-3 lead behind a kill from Sol Calvete, who finished the match with a game-high 17 kills. But Harvard would take the lead back after a 4-0 run behind kills from Cornelius and freshman Maclaine Fields, along with an ace from rookie Isabelle Tashima. The set would go back and forth, eventually settling at 15 points apiece. From there, another kill from Fields and an attacking error by Calvete handed Harvard the deciding set.
“We did really well,” Cornelius said. “We played as a team—had a lot of fire coming out. We had a rough game against UNH, so we really made it a priority to get into practice, work super hard, go for every ball, and to hit as hard as we can. We executed that really well yesterday.”
The freshmen led much of the offensive attack. Roberts-Burbank and Fields led the team with 16 kills apiece, while McCarthy earned 20 digs on the defensive side.
“This team is getting more powerful by the day,” McCarthy said. “We’re working super hard in practice, and every team we play we get better. We need to improve on being a cohesive unit on the court. Sometimes when we start to make mistakes we get a little bit frazzled.”
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