Sports

Volleyball battle to down Big Green after falling to the Crimson

Though the team had previously defeated Harvard, a revamped offense sunk Bruno

By
Sports Staff Writer
Monday, November 4, 2013

The Bears continued Ivy season play last weekend, traveling to Harvard and Dartmouth. Bruno (9-12, 5-5 Ivy) already defeated both teams at home earlier in the season. This was the team’s first pair of Ivy wins and propelled it to a three-match conference winning streak.

But the Bears lost 3-1 to Harvard (12-7, 7-3) Friday. Away games at Harvard are difficult because “of the difference in the court and lighting,” said Maryl Vanden Bos ’15. “It’s always hard to not have your fans.”

Harvard seemed to achieve a balance of a powerful and aggressive offense with an unstoppable defense. The Crimson consistently notched a high number of kills in every set, while limiting the Bears’ kill percentage to .142.

The first time Bruno played Harvard, the Crimson’s best outside hitter was injured within the first game of play. In this match, a restored offense and position change at libero for Harvard changed the matchup for Bruno, said Maddie Lord ’15. By switching up the libero — the most skilled defensive player on the team — the Bears were forced to adjust their offensive scheme.

Outside hitters are crucial to a team’s offense, because when a pass goes awry the outside hitters are usually there to try to put the ball down — and usually have the most opportunities for kills. With the return of the team’s strongest outside hitter, Harvard’s offense improved upon an already powerful attack.

The Crimson also had a strong middle attack that proved difficult to counter in this game, Vanden Bos said.  All of these changes illustrate the Harvard squad played cohesively.

As the Bears’ offense revved up, the team stayed in the match by narrowly squeaking out the third set 25-23 to force a fourth set. In the third set, they reached a set-high of 14 kills.

Bruno was trounced in the fourth set 25-12.

“The energy wasn’t high,” Lord said. “They had a 10-point run, and that’s always very tough to come back from.”

Brown tried to hold on for the first couple of points in the fourth, but the 10-point winning streak gave the Crimson a 15-5 lead.

“It had a lot to do with energy and mental focus,” Vanden Bos said. “We had a talk after the game, and it helped us against Dartmouth the next day.”

The Bears rebounded the next day with a convincing 3-0 win over Dartmouth, the first time this year Bruno has won an Ivy match in fewer than five sets. Though the Bears shut out the Big Green (10-12, 3-7), the match was close, with two of the three sets forced to extended play.

“We tend to do very well in those close pressure situations. … We are a mature team now because a lot of the players are older, so they handle the pressure well,” Lord said.

The Bears played well at pivotal moments and came up with big shots to close out the Big Green. Shannon Frost ’16 stood out with her mental toughness by clinching both the second and third sets with a pair of kills.

“We didn’t lose our cool when they would win points at the end,” Vanden Bos said.

While there were some nail-biting momentum swings, the Bears maintained sharp focus and positive energy. “Everyone was making a very conscious effort to be vocal and in the game,” Lord said.

This weekend Brown continues Ivy play, hosting Columbia and Cornell.

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