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Women's Volleyball Returns From California Winless

By Kurt T. Bullard

The Harvard women’s volleyball team was unable to turn things around after its slow finish in the Beantown Challenge, dropping four games in its road trip to California for the Baden Invitational.

In its four contests, the Crimson only managed to pick up sets in its tilt with Pepperdine, as the squad was swept by Duke, Loyola Marymount, and Arizona State.

“It was a great learning experience...being able to play such high-caliber teams,” sophomore Christina Cornelius said. “We got to see different talent, different plays, and how we can hang with these help us with our Ivy League season.”


Jordan Tucker led the Blue Devils with 10 kills on the day as Duke rolled through the Crimson defense in a straight-set victory. Cornelius had a game-high 11 kills for Harvard.

“The coaching staff wanted to try me out in a new position,” Cornelius said. “I’ve been working on my passing, as a middle you usually don’t play all six rotations….It’s been tough, but it’s also been a great experience.”

The Crimson failed to eclipse 20 points in any of the three sets. The weekend, however, provided good exposure to the new freshmen on the team.

“At one point, I looked at the court and it was me, Corie, and four freshmen,” junior Paige Kebe said.


With the Crimson still looking for its first set in the contest, a kill from junior Caroline Labanowski late in the first frame on an assist from co-captain Corie Bain evened up the score at 23 points apiece. But the Lions (6-3) roared back, as a kill from Jamie Lea gave Loyola Marymount a one-point advantage. A Crimson attacking error ended the first set in the Lions’ favor.

Victory proved much more elusive in the latter two sets, with Harvard only tallying 14 and 19 points in the second and third frames, respectively. Led by Sarah Sponcil’s game-high 13 kills, Loyola Marymount cruised to a straight-set victory.

Kebe and Cornelius led the charge for Harvard on the offensive side, both totalling seven kills on the night.


Down two sets to none late in the third, the Crimson seemed poised to turn the momentum around in its favor. Harvard was able to force extra points in the third set, but a late charge from the Sun Devils (6-3) confirmed the Crimson’s fate, turning the third frame into the final one of the contest.

Cassidy Pickrell and Oluoma Okaro both registered double-digit kills for ASU and only combined for five errors over the course of the contest.

Cornelius and Labanowski topped the Crimson’s attack with seven kills apiece. Rookie Maclaine Fields also notched four of her own.


WIth the Crimson down 10-8 in the penultimate set, a service error and attacking error by the Waves brought the score to a 10-all tie. But kills from Hannah Frohling and Jenna Tunnell, coupled with an attacking error by the Crimson, gave Pepperdine the separation it needed to close the door on Harvard’s hopes of leaving the the Baden Invitational with a win. Another Tunnell kill and Harvard error handed the set and the game to the Waves.

Harvard had a chance to take an early two-set lead, as the Crimson sat with a 23-22 lead in the second frame. But two straight errors saw Harvard’s one-point advantage turn into a one-point deficit. Another error—this time by the Waves—evened the game, but a kill from Tarah Wylie followed by yet another Crimson error allowed the Waves to tie the game at one set apiece.

The Crimson turned the tables in the third set, breaking a 26-all tie with kills from Cornelius and Bain. Freshman Grace Roberts Burbank forced the extra points with a kill set up by Bain with the Waves leading 25-24 at that juncture.

“Grace adds so much to our team,” Cornelius said. “She’s a great passer and hitter.”

—Staff write Kurt T. Bullard can be reached at

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