In a gripping battle against powerhouse Harvard University, the volleyball team improved to 10-2 overall and 1-0 in Ivy League action, winning three sets to one on Saturday. In its first conference match, before a crowd that included proud Dartmouth volleyball alumnae, the Big Green rallied through four grueling sets at Leede Arena to deliver Harvard its first loss of the season, ending the Crimson’s five-game win streak.
“I was really excited to get the Ivy conference started,” head coach Erin Lindsey said. “Harvard is a very strong opponent, and I told the team we just need to earn our points and make them earn theirs.”
The Dartmouth women fought long and hard to earn their victory. After trailing for most of the first set, a kill by Paige Caridi ’16 and an attack error by the opponent pulled the Big Green ahead before a combined block by Dartmouth led to a 27-25 set win.
In the second set, the Big Green kept its attack errors down while intensifying its offense. Aggressive serving by setter Stacey Benton ’17 gave Dartmouth a 4-0 run early in the set. The Crimson came within three points of the Big Green before Dartmouth extended its lead to six points with a 25-19 win.
But, Harvard would not go down without a fight, taking a 5-0 lead right off the bat in the third set.
“We really didn’t come out strong,” Caridi said. “We didn’t attack with intention, and Harvard’s good at having comebacks.”
The home team bounced back and tied it at 16-16 off of a kill by Kaira Lujan ’16 and an attack error by Harvard’s sophomore setter Corinne Bain. The teams traded points before the Big Green got its first lead of the set at 21-20.
Just as Dartmouth reached game point at 24-23, a series of Crimson kills and blocks ended the third set at 24-26 and forced a fourth set.
“I thought that the third set was well fought,” Lindsey said. “I thought we could’ve won that set and that we could’ve been more aggressive to finish it off, but that’s part of the learning process.”
The fourth set began as the second had with renewed focus in favor of the Big Green.
“We reconvened and decided that we needed to come out stronger and with more intensity,” Caridi said.
The increased aggressiveness paid off as Dartmouth had two 4-0 runs during this set alone with a late run capped off by a service ace by Alex Schoenberger ’15 at 24-16. The Big Green struggled to close out the game, allowing the Crimson to go on a 5-0 run, but after nearly two hours of action, a kill by Benton sealed the game for the Big Green at 25-21.
“As an alumna, it was awesome to see that energy,” Erin Alkire ’02 said. “It felt like we were a part of that win and beating Harvard is always exciting. I’m proud of Dartmouth for celebrating women’s athletics and volleyball.”
Emily Astarita ’17 led the match with 15 kills followed by co-captain Caridi with 14 kills and Molly Kornfeind ’17 with 12. Passing was key in earning sideouts as Julia Lau ’17 recorded 16 digs and Benton added 14. Although the Crimson out-blocked the home team 9-7, the Big Green had a better kill-to-error ratio, 57-20 to Harvard’s 53-24. Equally impressive was Morgan Waterman ’18 who made her debut in an Ivy League game and was tasked with serving towards the close of the pivotal third set.
“I’m proud of the team and I like the intensity that we played with,” Waterman said.
The Big Green will host Brown University Friday at 7 p.m.