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Women's Volleyball Falls in Five to Middle Tennessee State at Hokie Invitational

Wallace recorded a team-high 16 kills in her collegiate debut Friday.

BLACKSBURG, Va. – The Harvard women's volleyball team overcame a 2-0 deficit to force a fifth set against Middle Tennessee State Friday afternoon but could not complete the comeback as it fell, 3-2, in its first match of the season at the Hokie Invitational.

Harvard (0-1) was led by senior captain Taylor Docter who recorded a double-double with 14 kills and 11 digs. Sophomore Caroline Walters turned in 13 kills and hit .647 for the match while freshman Kathleen Wallace posted 16 kills in her debut with a .323 hitting percentage. Senior Beth Kinsella and freshman Hannah Schmidt split the setting duties, notching 26 assists and 22 assists, respectively.

The Crimson defense was on display as well against Middle Tennessee (2-3) as Harvard combined for 11 blocks and limited the Blue Raiders to a .224 hitting percentage for the match. Teresa Skelly turned in six total blocks, including two solo, to lead the charge with Docter and Walters each adding four.

Middle Tennessee was paced by Chelsea Ross' 19-kill, 11-dig double-double and Brandi Weller's 11-kill performance.

Harvard dropped the first set, 26-24, despite six lead changes and 19 tied scores. Back-to-back kills by Walters and Docter moved the score to 9-7, and a block by Erin Cooney and Docter gave Harvard its largest lead of the set, 10-7. Middle Tennessee came back to tie the score again at 10, and the teams remained deadlocked midway through the frame at 16-16. The Blue Raiders seemed to have gained an edge in the momentum with a 6-2 run, but Harvard battled back to make it a one-point game, 24-23, on Skelly's third kill of the set. The Crimson would not complete the comeback, however, as Middle Tennessee put the frame away on a kill by Waller.

The second set remained close in the opening moments as a Wallace kill made the score 9-8 in favor of the Blue Raiders. Middle Tennessee began to pull away with a 5-1 stretch, and later used a 4-1 run to open a 22-15 lead en route to the 25-20 victory.

The Crimson turned the tide in the third set, hitting .258 while holding Middle Tennessee to a -.040 hitting percentage as the squad rolled to a 25-20 win. Harvard rattled off five straight points to take an 11-6 margin off a block by Skelly and Caroline Holte, and led by as many as seven points, 20-13, after the pair teamed up for another block. Back-to-back kills by Walters and Docter put the frame away.

Harvard evened the match at two sets apiece with a 25-20 win in the fourth set after battling back from an 11-5 deficit. A 5-0 Crimson run which included three kills from Walters tied the set at 12, and a 4-0 spurt later gave Harvard its first lead, 17-16. A kill by Holte and an attack error by the Blue Raiders moved the score to 21-18 in Harvard's favor before a Walters kill and ball handling error gave the frame to the Crimson.

Despite Harvard's resurgence after the intermission, Middle Tennessee regained the upper hand in the fifth and deciding set with a 15-8 victory. Consecutive points off Crimson errors gave the Blue Raiders a 6-4 edge which they later turned into a 10-6 advantage off back-to-back kills. Middle Tennessee then put the match away with a 5-1 run down the stretch.

Harvard returns to action tomorrow at the Hokie Invitational as it takes on host Virginia Tech at 12:30 p.m. and Towson at 5 p.m.