On Friday, the women’s volleyball team fell to Harvard 3-1 in the playoff match for the NCAA automatic bid. The Tigers, who started out the season 0-3, had an incredible comeback over the course of the season, becoming the first team to come back from such a start to win the Ivy League Title.
The game opened with a bang, as the Tigers came in hot, killing 12 balls with only three errors during the first set, winning it 25-20. Junior outside hitter Cara Mattaliano and freshman middle blocker Nnenna Ibe combined for nine of the kills but only one error, with Mattaliano totaling 12 kills and 13 digs during the entire game, while Ibe had 11 kills and five blocks. Senior co-captain Kendall Peterkin had eight kills of her own during the faceoff, with seven digs and two blocks, while freshman Claire Nussbaum had 45 assists.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, a strong Crimson offense prevailed in the following two sets, as Harvard hit .375 to win the second set 25-15 before hitting .324 to win eight of the last nine points in the third set, gaining a 2-1 lead on the Tigers.
The fourth set, which sealed the loss for the Tigers, was incredibly close, as the Tigers led 22-20 after Peterkin’s final career kill. Harvard won three points in a row before Ibe evened out the score, 23-23, with her final kill, but a the Tigers fell after a kill and a tough block that left the score 25-23.
Friday’s match concluded a successful season, in which Tigers won seven of the last eight Ivy League Player of the Week honors, with co-captains Peterkin and Cara Mattaliano winning two Player of the Week honors each, while Nussbaum has won three of the last four Rookie of the Week honors.
Mattaliano was named 2015 Ivy League Player of the Year, becoming the fifth player in program history to receive such an honor, while one of the four others to win the award, now program head coach Sabrina King, was named Ivy League Co-Coach of the Year. Co-captains Peterkin and Mattaliano were both unanimous All-Ivy first team selections, while junior Brittany Ptak and Nussbaum were both named to the second team. Mattaliano finished the season in the top three in the Ivy League for both kills per set, finishing second with 3.49, and service aces per set, finishing third with 0.29. Mattaliano also finished fourth in the League for kills, with 297, just behind Peterkin, with 301. Peterkin also finished third in kills per set, with 2.46, while Ptak finished second in hitting percentage, at .336, just ahead of Ibe, at .332. Nussbaum finished the season fourth in assists per set, with 7.5, notable particularly because she wasn’t a full-time setter until halfway through the season.