An attendance battle might be in the making this season between Harvard basketball at Lavietes Pavilion and the women’s volleyball team at the Malkin Athletic Center.
That was because an exhilarating sell-out crowd filled the stands of the Crimson’s (6-4, 1-0 Ivy League) Ivy League opener against Dartmouth (4-6, 0-1 Ivy League) to witness the home team’s 3-1 victory. The energy of the hometown fans, many of whom were forced to stand on the second floor railing, was a sight to be admired on Friday night.
“I was really happy with how we played today,” sophomore blocker Maclaine Fields said, “It was important to come out strong for a first game in the Ivy League and show everyone what kind of team we are. I was happy with the grit that we all showed and seeing it all come together was amazing.”
The first timeout of the game was called quickly in set one, after Harvard sprinted to a 15-5 lead. The Big Green looked was sloppier in its execution, and an impressive 10 digs prior to the first timeout by the Crimson quickly generated solid opportunities for Harvard.
The Crimson offense relied heavily on softer dinks and strategic ball positioning in order to evade the Dartmouth frontline, led by freshman Tola Akinwumi and sophomore Carly Tower.
Off a set-high five kills by Fields, the Crimson barrelled through the remainder of the set. Dartmouth was simply outmatched and only pulled out 12 points, along with four attack errors and four reception errors.
“We have worked so incredibly hard in practice,” junior co-captain Christina Cornelius said, “It feels like everything is gelling for us, from hitting to digging to setting. We are still feeling each other out but for the first game it was a great start.”
Cornelius and Fields were Harvard’s two main attacking targets for the game, and the two both finished with double-digit kill marks. A final kill tally of 18 was remarkably a career-high for Cornelius, who was complemented by sophomore setter Erin McCarthy’s 46 assists.
“I felt like me and Erin really clicked today,” Cornelius said, “ I want to do as much as I can on and off the court. Today I was just seeing spots open and Erin was setting me really well so I think that was how it happened.”
The Big Green finally woke up in the second set and jumped out to a 8-5 lead, forcing Harvard to call its first timeout.
The Crimson kept the set within reaching distance, and two straight kills along with a reception error in the middle of the set brought the set back to a 15-15 tie game.
But sloppy play by Harvard near the end of the set allowed Dartmouth to pull away, with a 25-19 final set score enough to temper the early enthusiasm built by the Crimson.
However, Harvard bounced back from the second set with a 7-2 run to start the third set.
The eighth point for the Crimson involved a little piece of trickery as McCarthy earned a rare kill. Recognizing that the Big Green was flat-footed as it awaited a spike from one of the Harvard wings, McCarthy brilliantly flicked the ball directly over the net into the unsuspecting Dartmouth line. This was just McCarthy’s second kill in the past three games.
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