Opportunity. For any team to be successful over a course of a season, they must capitalize on opportunities. The Harvard Crimson followed a theme of missing opportunities this season. Whether it was allowing teams to comeback from 2-0 deficits, or not finishing sets after gaining a big lead, Harvard found it difficult to reach its potential with a young but fiery team.
Harvard (10-13, 7-7 EIVA) had the opportunity in its last regular season road trip to punch a ticket to the EIVA tournament by defeating both the Princeton Tigers (12-13, 8-6 EIVA) and NJIT Highlanders (13-13, 6-8 EIVA). Unfortunately for the Crimson, after a loss to Princeton in three straight sets on Friday night, and Sacred Heart beating the Tigers the day after, its season was brought to an early and abrupt close.
“Just a couple things defined the season. We lost a lot of close matches this year which was definitely really tough. But I thought we were really good at dialing back especially after a loss to come back and win on Saturdays, or if we lost on a Saturday, come back on Friday and play a lot better,” junior Riley Moore said. “It was kind of a bummer that we would lose a lot of close matches, but our ability to bounce back and keep fighting to the end of the season was really important.”
HARVARD 3, NJIT 0
The Crimson found itself in a difficult position Saturday afternoon. After losing to Princeton it needed a victory to stay in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs.
“We knew that some things had to happen for us to make the playoffs, but we could only control what we were doing in our match,” Moore said. “We just wanted to make sure that if we won the game, we’re just putting ourselves in the best place we can and hoping for everyone else [in the conference] to do their part.”
Harvard did not want its destiny to rely on the performances of other teams and came out with a new found drive after a devastating loss to the Tigers.
After a nail biting 26-24 victory in the first set, Harvard came out in the second set hot and the momentum carried them throughout the match.
“I feel ok about the way we played today. A lot of courageous play today,” coach Brian Baise said. “A lot of guys were hurt. Really tough loss last night, so to come back from that and play like we did today is impressive. They competed hard.”
Harvard’s offense and defense were top notch in the second set boasting a hitting percentage of .412, and limiting the Highlanders to a hit percentage of .080. After the dominating second game the Crimson would close out the match 25-21 in the final set.
Freshman Erik Johnsson lead the effort with 14 kills, while co-captain Casey White had seven. Freshman Matthew Ctvrtlik had 14 assists and junior Marko Kostich had eight.
“It’s definitely bittersweet getting the win today,” said White. “I’m proud of our team and the resolve we showed to come out and kind of win in a resounding fashion.”
PRINCETON 3, HARVARD 0
The Crimson, dropped two crucial home games the previous weekend and had to win its next two conference games. The first win had to come through Princeton, NJ. However, the Tigers had no interests to do any favors for its Ivy League rival.
“They beat us in about every aspect of the game. They were sharp and we just were not. Fundamentally we weren’t great. We didn’t serve great, and we had trouble with their serves,” coach Baise said. “Give them credit, they were the better team last night and we came up one game short this year. We had opportunities, and we didn’t capitalize on them. It wasn’t a lack of desire and effort on our part; our guys were a really hard working group.”
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