Women's Volleyball Takes Boston College in Five-Set Thriller

Killer Front
Timothy R. O'Meara

Sophomore Erin McCarthy sets the ball for junior Christina Cornelius. The team finished the match with 69 kills overall.

It appeared that the Harvard women’s volleyball team’s match against Boston College would be a fast three-set shutout. But the Eagles (3-6) clawed their way back into the game, and it took a fifth-set tiebreaker for the Crimson (3-4) to finally shut the door on victory.

“We totally dominated the first two sets, but we let up our energy and let them back in and had to slowly get our momentum back near the end of the next few sets,” freshman hitter Mindie Mabry said. “It was a little too late in those sets, but we kept our energy and were able to finish with the win.”

Harvard started off the first set with positive momentum, scoring six straight points in the middle of the set to take a 16-10 lead.

The offensive weapons for the Crimson clicked from the onset. Mabry led the team in the first set with four kills, while junior co-captain Christina Cornelius contributed an additional three.

While Harvard started off inconsistently in last week’s contest against Tennessee Tech with nine errors in the first set, the Crimson mitigated their mistakes to just two set errors to start off this game.


“I thought we completely controlled the start of the game,” said sophomore hitter Grace Roberts Burbank. “Heading into Ivies, I felt this was a good preparation for that and think the team fought hard and played well today.”

After fighting back to a 13-16 deficit, Boston College fell victim to the firepower of the Harvard offense late in the set. An 8-2 run provided the first set point to the Crimson, with the final score at 25-16.

The second set was more of a back-and-forth battle, with tie scores at 3-3 and 6-6. Gradually, Harvard regained the positive energy of the first set, taking a 17-9 lead midway through set two.

The Eagles used two timeouts during their scoring drought, but these efforts were in vain as the Crimson secured the second set point with a 25-17 finish.

“I think one of the strengths of the team is that we have a really diverse offense,” Roberts Burbank said. “We have weapons all along the net and were happy to contribute what we could.”

The Crimson fell behind 3-7 to start set three, with four of those seven BC points coming from Harvard attack errors. The Eagles maintained their lead at 13-7 at the midway point, and Harvard appeared flustered throughout much of the early parts of the set, especially on the defensive side.

The Crimson rebounded quickly however, and made a valiant attempt at a comeback. Boston College’s main attacking weapons slowed down, allowing for Harvard to build some momentum and rack up a few runs, including narrowing a 22-15 Eagles lead to just four at 24-20.

The odds were stacked up against Harvard with this late set score, but a resilient defense allowed the Crimson to tie the game at 24-24. However, the Eagles rose again, taking the last two points of the game’s most competitive set.

“That was the best we had all fought and it was awesome to feel the energy of the crowd as we tried to come back in that set,” Mabry said. “The whole team was feeling confident even though we gave up the set point. As a freshman, I feel this experience will only make the team stronger.”

In the fourth set, Boston College broke away late and finished with the 25-23 set point. Sophomore hitter Cat Balido dominated in the set and was the main offensive weapon for the Eagles, ultimately finishing with 18 kills.

All signs pointed to a Boston College comeback victory, but Harvard stayed composed and started off the final tiebreaker on a strong note, jumping to a 10-6 lead. Pushing their way forward to 15, the Crimson traded points until the final moments, when two attack errors by Balido helped to seal the fifth set victory.

Overall, Roberts Burbank and Mabry were the leaders on offense, each contributing 16 kills. On defense, the team finished with 46 digs and 33 blocks.

The Crimson will be on short rest following tonight’s nail biter, as they face the Northeastern Huskies Friday night and back home Saturday afternoon against UMass Lowell to close out the weekend series.

—Staff writer Henry Zhu can be reached at


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