Last weekend, the Harvard women’s volleyball team took the court at the Malkin Athletic Center with an opportunity to turn a good season into a great one. With just two matches left in the 2017-18 season, the Crimson was still mathematically alive in the hunt for the Ivy League title behind Princeton and Yale.
To earn a share of the title, though, the Crimson had needed to both 1) go 2-0 against Princeton and Penn and 2) hope that the Tigers and Bulldogs went 0-4.
In the Friday night kickoff against league-leader Princeton, however, Harvard (13-10, 8-6 Ivy League) ultimately fell to the Tigers (17-7, 10-4), by a final of three close sets to zero, 25-20, 25-22, and 25-22.
After being eliminated from Ivy League championship contention, the home team ended the season on a positive note, however, defeating Penn (12-11, 7-7) less than 24 hours later on the same court. The Crimson’s last chance to impress its home fans on senior night thus ended in a victory.
“Senior night is like the culmination of our four years here, and it represents all of the teams we’ve played on throughout our time here,” senior outside hitter Paige Kebe said. “It’s just a really special night for the team to celebrate the seniors and everything we’ve given to the program, and for us to kind of put it in their hands now, and pass it on.”
HARVARD 3, PENN 1
For the final match of the season, almost twice as many spectators filled the MAC than had on the previous night, with Penn boasting a large and vocal fanbase. At times, the Quakers’ fans and bench seemed to be making more noise than the Harvard supporters, even when the home team was in steady control of the game. The noise ultimately didn’t faze the home team, however, as Harvard outlasted the visitors for a victory in four sets.
The Crimson dropped the first set, 25-15, but took the next three, 25-22, 26-24, and 25-20 to win the game in style.
It was not all smooth sailing, as Penn appeared to be the more settled team at the beginning of the game. The Quakers jumped out to an 11-4 lead in the first set as Harvard struggled to land its shots—in the first set alone, the home team finished with a .176 hitting percentage compared to Penn’s .393. It looked as if the Crimson seniors were going to end their season with a thud, rather than a bang.
Rallying together, however, Harvard improved greatly over the next three sets, with each looking better than the previous. The Crimson hit more and more effectively—the home team finished with a .429 hitting percentage in the fourth, compared to Penn’s .175.
In the second set, Harvard jumped out to a 10-5 lead and held on from there to tie the match at one set apiece. Gaining steam from the set win, the Crimson led almost wire-to-wire in the second and third sets, looking like the much better team in the process.
Sophomore blocker Maclaine Fields led Harvard on offense, recording 14 kills on the night, while captain Christina Cornelius had another all-around impressive performance, clocking in 13 kills, two aces, and three blocks.
All told, four Crimson players tallied double-digit kill totals, and Harvard as a team finished with a .271 kill percentage.
The team’s two seniors, Kebe and defensive specialist Heather Sigurdson, had strong showings in their last appearances in a Crimson jersey. Kebe recorded 12 kills, while Sigurdson played her second straight game with 10 digs.
Women Look To Continue Hot Streak on Trip to Columbia, CornellThe 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.
Women’s Volleyball Looks for Wins Against Crosstown Rivals
Women's Volleyball Earns First Ivy League Victory Of Season
Women's Volleyball Bounces Back with Win Against DartmouthAfter a tough five-set loss at the hands of Cornell capped last weekend’s slate of Ivy League competition, the Harvard women’s volleyball team got right back on track on Friday night. The Crimson dropped the first set to Dartmouth in the Malkin Athletic Center, but responded by taking the next three to send the Big Green back to Hanover winless.
Women’s Volleyball Splits Against Princeton, Penn