Women’s Volleyball Opens Season with Five-Set Thriller Against Holy Cross

Women’s Volleyball Opens Season with Five-Set Thriller Against Holy Cross

Bain made an impact in her collegiate debut with a double-double effort (photo courtesy Tim Hart).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard women's volleyball team forced five sets against Holy Cross Friday night to complete the comeback, 3-2, in its first match of the season at the Harvard Invitational at the Malkin Athletic Center.

In her collegiate debut, freshman Corinne Bain made an early impact for the Crimson recoding a double-double with 10 kills and 31 assists. Junior Caroline Walters turned in 11 kills while seniro Natalie Doyle and junior Kristen Casey had 26 digs and 13 digs, respectively.

The Crimson defense was on display against Holy Cross (1-3) as Harvard (1-0) combine for 17 blocks and limited the Crusaders to a .113 hitting percentage. Senior Teresa Skelly turned in eight total blocks to lead the charge with Walters and sophomore Jennifer Shults adding seven and six, respectively.

Holy Cross was paced by freshman Katie McKernan's 33 assists, 10-dig double-double effort. McKernan was a kill shy of a triple-double while her classmates Emily Popp and Natalie Welsch contributed to the Crusaders offense. Popp recorded a match-best 31 digs while Welsch notched a team-high 12 kills.

The Crusaders took the lead with three straight kills early in the first set, but Harvard inched its way within one points, 8-7, on a block by Shults and Holte. Holy Cross pulled away with a 4-1 stretch, and continued to open a 19-13 lead en route to the 25-18 victory.

The early half of the second set was a back-and-forth affair with neither team taking a definitive lead. Harvard made a surge behind a 3-0 run which included kills by Baine, Walters and a block by freshman Grace Weghorst and Walters to give the Crimson an 11-8 lead before the teams exchange points. Another 3-0 stretch lengthened Harvard's lead to 18-14, as the Crimson went on to win the second set 25-17.

Despite nine lead changes and eight ties, Harvard dropped the third set, 25-23. Back-to-back kills by Weghosrt and a kill by Baine moved the scored to 10-7, and a block assist by Wallace and Walters gave the Crimson its largest lead of the set, 15-11. Holy Cross came back to tie the score again at 15 and the teams remained deadlocked again at 17. The Crusaders seemed to have gained an edge in the momentum with a 3-0 run, but Harvard battled back to pull within one point, 24-23. The Crimson would not complete the comeback, however, as Holy Cross put the frame away on a Harvard attack error.

Following a see-saw opening of the fourth set that featured two lead changes and three ties, Harvard jumped out to a four-point lead on a kill by Weghorst. Holy Cross battled back and came as close as three points, but the Crimson defense held the Crusaders attack off and took its largest lead of the set 20-14. Three straight errors by Harvard brought Holy Cross back within three, before the Crimson found an answer to take the set, 25-21, and even the match.

The Crimson wasted no time in the final set as it jumped out to a 7-2 lead, however, the Crusaders would not going down without a fight as they answered with a 6-2 run of their own to make it a one-point set, 8-9. Harvard went on to score six straight points and scored match point off a kill from Casey.

Harvard returns to action tomorrow night in the conclusion of the Harvard Invitational against Hofstra. First serve is schedule for 7 p.m. at the Malkin Athletic Center.