By David F. Pendrys
NEW HAVEN, CT – In a clash for the ages Friday night, Yale and Harvard’s volleyball teams went five sets and then some. In a close match the Crimson narrowly defeated the Bulldogs 3-2 after entering an extra points period of the decisive set 5. With the win Harvard rose to 7-4 in conference and earned at least a mathematical shot at an Ivy League championship. Yale dropped to 8-3.
Harvard actually hit for .146 while Yale hit for .190 in the loss. Yale generally outpaced Harvard’s hit percentage in sets 1 through 4, but Harvard had a slightly higher number in set 5. The contest was an incredibly even one, filled with multiple long volleys back and forth and strategic maneuvers that countered each other. The close scoring in each set showcased this as well. Both teams looked like a match for the other.
Kathryn Attar lead Yale with 19 Kills, and also 11 had Digs for a double double. Kelley Wirth put up 17 Kills, Tristin Kott had 12, Megan Rasmussen 9, and others were spread among the team. Franny Arnautou had 29 Assists and Kelsey Crawford had 27 as the pair platooned setting up the offense. Kaitlyn Gibbons, Kate Swanson, and Franny Arnautou had 1 service Ace a piece.
Libero Kate Swanson had 38 Digs to lead the team, Rasmussen had 11, and Arnautou had 10 (as she also had a double double.). Attar had 2 solo Blocks and 2 shared ones. Chiara Spain had 1 solo and 7 shared Blocks. Izzy Simqu and Wirth each had 1 solo and 3 shared Blocks apiece. Kott shared 3 herself.
Paige Kebe had 15 Kills to lead Harvard, Jocelyn Meyer and Grace Roberts Burbank had 14 apiece, and Maclaine Fields had 9. Erin McMarthy had 48 Assists, Meyer and Sandra Zeng had 2 Service Aces, and Burbank and Anna Uhr had 1.
McCarthy also had 20 Digs for a double double, Christina Cornelius had 19, as did Uhr. Fields had 3 solo Blocks and 2 shared ones. Cornelius had 2 solos and 3 shared Blocks. Meyer shared 4 Blocks on the day.
The two teams split the first two sets, oddly enough by a score of 25-21 each time. Yale picked up the win in set 3, also 25-21, after managing to break a 21-21 tie with four straight points including a Kill from Kott, and an Ace from Arnautou. In set 4, the teams both played to a 21-21 tie again, but Yale too a two point advantage off a Kill from Attar then a block from her. Fields responded with a rocket of a Kill, and Meyer and Cornelius shared a block to tie it up. Zeng then landed a service Ace, but Wirth responded with a kill just in bounds. Cornelius and Meyer shared another block to thwart a Yale attack and Meyer’s service Ace ended the set 26-24.
So to set 5 the teams went. With only 15 points to work with, Yale snatched a 6-2 lead, but Harvard clawed back to 10-10. The team’s traded points to 12-12. Harvard committed an error, but got a point right back off a Kebe off a Yale player’s hands. Attar stepped for Yale landing a ball into the back corner, but a Yale error tied the score back to 14-14.
Rasmussen sent an attack in that Harvard couldn’t return, but Cornelius set the ball to the back of the Yale line to tie it again. Rasmussen again struck, but McCarthy a point later blocked a Bulldogs attack to tie it yet again. Wirth responded with a smack for Yale, but Roberts Burbank walloped the ball of the blockers to tie it yet again. Yale attacked out of play to surrender the lead, but Wirth and Spain blocked Harvard’s attack to tie the game again. An errant Yale serve put Harvard up one, and Meyer ended it to the shock of the home crowd.