Bain recorded a triple-double in Harvard's first NCAA tournament appearance (Scott Bruhn).
LINCOLN, Neb. – The Harvard women's volleyball team put a scare into fourth-seeded Nebraska Friday night in the NCAA tournament first round before ultimately falling to the Huskers on their home court, 3-1.
Harvard, making its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance, sent a message to the 8,098 fans in attendance at the Bob Devaney Sports Center with a 25-22 victory in the first set. Nebraska rallied to take the second set, 25-15, however, and held off the Crimson with a 25-17 win in the third and a 25-19 triumph in the fourth.
"I couldn't be more proud of the women on the team," head coach Jennifer Weiss commented following the match. "I'm very excited how we represented Harvard as an institution, as well as the Ivy League. I think we did a fabulous job and I'm very proud."
Harvard was led by its trio of All-Ivy League first team selections; Corinne Bain, Kathleen Wallace and Christina Cornelius. Bain turned in her eighth triple-double of the year with a team-high 13 kills, 19 assists, 14 digs and four blocks. Wallace, meanwhile, totaled 12 kills and nine digs, while Cornelius contributed eight kills and four blocks.
"I thought we came out with fire and that's our biggest strength," said Bain. "We have battled through Ivy League games all the time, and I think it really comes down to our heart. When we realized that we could do it, I think we gained the confidence we needed in order to finish the game."
Nebraska finished the evening hitting at a .298 clip paced by Kelly Hunter's 54 assists. Kadie Rolfzen registered 15 kills and was complimented by Mikaela Foecke's 12 kills. The Huskers will now face Wichita State in the tournament's second round tomorrow at 8 p.m. EST for a spot in the Lexington, Kentucky regional on Dec. 11-12.
Harvard earned its first trip to the NCAA tournament with a 3-1 win over Princeton in the Ivy League Playoff. The Crimson and Tigers shared the Ivy League championship with identical 10-4 conference records, representing Harvard's third Ancient Eight crown (2004, 2014).
Harvard took it to Nebraska in the first set and led 7-3 following a Wallace block. The Huskers came back to tie the score at 9-9, but Bain took over from there, scoring two kills and teaming with Cornelius for a pair of blocks to put the Crimson in front 13-9. A pair of Nebraska errors gave Harvard its largest lead at 17-12 before another Huskers run pulled the hosts within 17-15. The Crimson responded out of a timeout to regain a 19-15 edge, and earned a chance at set point with a block by Cornelius and Jocelyn Meyer, 24-21. Holte capped the frame off, giving Harvard a win in its first NCAA tournament set, 25-22.
Nebraska rebounded in the second and sprinted out to a 10-0 lead. Harvard recovered to match the Huskers point-for-point for the remainder of the set, but could not overcome the early deficit as Nebraska went on to win, 25-15.
Tied 11-11 in the third, the Huskers began to pull away with a 4-0 stretch to open a 15-11 margin. The Crimson remained close and was within 19-16 following a Wallace service ace, but Nebraska closed the frame with a 6-1 run for the 25-17 victory.
Nebraska once again got out of the gates quickly and led 6-1 moments into the fourth. Harvard was able pull back to within 7-5 on a Husker error, but four-straight Nebraska points put the spread at 11-5 and the Huskers fended off the Crimson for the remainder of the frame to earn match point, 25-19.
"I was so proud of them after that first set. We really showed what we were made of," Weiss added. "At the end of it, I was really celebrating with the seniors and the upperclassmen and how much they've put into the program. To win the Ivy League title is the ultimate goal for us and Harvard. And we achieved that two years in a row. For us personally to experience the loss of not getting to the tournament last year really gave these seniors some fire, and here we are this year."