Women's Volleyball Prevails In Thrilling Victory Over Boston College

Jumping For Joy
Harvard celebrates a point in its thrilling victory over crosstown opponent Boston College.
 In a thrilling back-and-forth affair, Harvard women’s volleyball (3-4) took down previously undefeated Boston College (9-1) in five sets. Momentum swung like a pendulum, with each team trading a win for a loss in each resulting set. After the Eagles forced a fifth and final set, the Crimson took home the final set 15-11.  Senior captain and middle blocker Christina Cornelius and junior middle blocker Sope Adeleye came up with the final dagger on a block that sealed the victory. Cornelius’s 14 kills and 13 digs were both good enough for team-highs for Harvard.

With the pressure on entering the deciding set, the Crimson showed poise and precision in jumping out to an early lead. Harvard scored the first three points of the fifth set, and the Crimson kept the pressure on by going up 5-1 early on in the set, forcing a Boston College timeout. Of Harvard’s first five points of the last set, Adeleye and fellow junior middle blocker Maclaine Fields were responsible for a pair of kills each in the initial 5-1 run. 

Coming out of the timeout, the Eagles slowly chipped away at the lead to make the score 10-8 Crimson. Harvard turned up the pressure again, going on a quick three-point run. The spurt proved to be fatal for Boston College, as it was unable to overcome the large 13-8 deficit. The Eagles were able to score twice preventing the Crimson’s match point, but a final block gave the set, and the match, to Harvard.

Although the entire match proved to be a tug-of-war, the first set started very streaky. the Crimson opened up the night by scoring the first seven points. However, with the score 8-1, Boston College put together a run of its own, grabbing back four straight points. 

After some back-and-forth play, the opening set became tied at 19. Both squads traded points a few times, with Harvard eventually gaining the upper hand at 24-23. Junior outside hitter Grace Roberts Burbank delivered a kill that ended the threat for the Crimson.


The second set also saw dramatic swings in momentum. Boston College jumped out to an early lead, but Harvard thundered right back, tying the set at nine and even holding a two-point lead as late as 18-16. The game remained within one point until the Crimson ran out of gas. Leading 20-19, the Eagles turned up the heat and quickly struck for five consecutive points to take home the second set and even up the score. 

The third set mirrored the entire night, with neither side willing to give up any ground without a fight. The point differential between the two squads did not climb above two until Harvard took a 19-16 lead late in the set. This little spark of momentum would prove to be enough. A kill by sophomore outside hitter Mindie Mabry made the score 20-17 Crimson, sparking a four-point run that put Harvard within striking distance of taking the set. With an attack error by Boston College junior Cat Balido, Harvard had regained the momentum. 

Typical of the night, that momentum was lost as quickly as it was gained. In a do-or-die set for the Eagles, Boston College jumped out to a quick 3-0 start. Harvard clawed its way back, tying the game at nine on another Mabry kill. The familiar tug-of-war continued throughout much of the set, with the Crimson hoping to end the night early and the Eagles fighting to stay alive. Down 22-21, Harvard used a timeout in an attempt to swing the game back in its favor. Roberts Burbank delivered a kill out of the timeout to tie the score once again, however this set would look much like the other even-numbered set earlier in the night. The Crimson again seemed to run out of gas, allowing three straight Boston College points that forced a fifth set. Ultimately, the see-saw seemingly controlling the night tipped towards Harvard again, as the Crimson took home the final set to secure the victory. 

Fields led the way in the final set with four of her 11 total kills coming in crunch time. Her solid play elevated Harvard at the end of the game to its third straight victory over its crosstown rival, its second straight coming in five sets. The win proved even more impressive as it delivered the Eagles its very first loss of the season. Harvard hopes to finish the weekend strong before starting conference play.

—Staff writer Joseph W. Minatel can be reached at