BROWN 3, HARVARD 2
Saturday night’s bout saw Harvard (10-11, 5-7 Ivy) and Brown (10-12, 3-9) trade blows in a five-game, nail-biting match. As the Crimson defeated Brown 3-2 in a similarly close match in early October, the Bears’ victory evened the season series at 1-1.
The hosts were able to take the first game in routine fashion, pulling away midway through and winning 25-18. Gridlock ensued in the second game, as neither team was able to pull away from the other. After tying the game at 23-23, two errors from Harvard gave the game to Brown, tying up the match score at one apiece.
The third game saw the same trends continue, as both squads matched each other point for point. Brown was not able to capitalize on three consecutive game points, allowing Harvard to tie it up at 24 points each. The back and forth play continued until the final kill from freshman right side attacker Jaimie Rao, who finished off the game at 30-28.
Sophomore outside hitter Mindie Mabry led the match with 15 kills, closely followed by co-captain Christina Cornelius with 13. They have been two of Harvard’s top attackers this year, and on the season are the top two in kills for the Crimson.
With their backs against a wall, the Bears were able to survive another tight game in the fourth. After an error that gave Harvard a match point, Brown managed to convert three consecutive points, finishing the game with a service ace that sent the match into a final fifth game.
After four tense games that saw the score tied 41 times, Harvard failed to keep up with the Bears in the decisive final game. Brown came out of the break fast, getting off to a five point lead and holding its lead to finish off the match just short of the three-hour mark.
YALE 3, HARVARD 0
In Friday night’s contest against Yale (17-4, 11-1), Harvard came out of the gate with high energy, matching Yale point for point in the first before errors and strong defense allowed the Bulldogs to pull away with the first game, 25-18.
“I think Yale’s defense is very good, their ball control too, so we usually serve very aggressively to take them out of system,” Harvard coach Jennifer Weiss said. “We couldn’t get them out of system, so they had three options every time.”
The Crimson controlled the blocking battle, recording 16 blocks to Yale’s eight. Cornelius again had a strong performance, leading the way with six blocks.
Yale came out quickly in the second game, forcing errors that allowed the visitors to gain a 10-4 lead early on. Harvard’s defense was able to hold the Bulldogs to a .156 hitting percentage in the second, but it was not enough to fight back. Despite seeing their lead fall to two points, Yale recovered and finished off the game, 25-17.
Harvard’s woes can be attributed to the fact that a day prior the Crimson lost one of its starting players, freshman setter Bella Almanza, to injury.
“That happened quickly yesterday, so we didn’t have a whole lot of time to prepare, so it's a big effect, it’s like [losing] the quarterback,” Weiss said. “The other two stepped up to the plate, but one of those two is injured as well.”
In a win or go home scenario, Harvard was able to hang with the Bulldogs for most of the game, each team trading the lead throughout the set until the score read 17-17. With a quick momentum shift Yale was able to tally three quick points, forcing a timeout for the Crimson. Yale was able to close out the game quickly after the timeout, 25-20, completing the three game sweep.
Getting Almanza back from injury will be key as Harvard tries to put this weekend behind them and close out its conference schedule.
“We will rally, hopefully we will get her back on the court on Monday and keep moving forward,” Weiss said.
Harvard will end its regular season on the road next week when it faces Ivy League foes Princeton (17-6, 10-2) and Penn (5-18, 2-10).
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