Rob Lothman (right) sets up Nick Madden for a kill during Harvard's win over Springfield (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The Harvard men’s volleyball team had three players reach double-digit kills in its Monday night victory over Springfield, 3-1. The win is the fourth in a row for the Crimson and improved Harvard to 6-1, the best start to a season since 2000.
The Crimson had its best attacking set of the 2011 to open the match, converting 66.7 percent of its attack attempts in the first set. Junior Matt Jones accounted for six of Harvard’s 12 kills in the opening set. Springfield, the AVCA Division III No. 1, also attacked well in the first set, converting 45.8 percent of its attempts. The quality hitting led to a tied score at 20, but the Crimson took over from there. Jones slammed home two kills, Chris Gibbons knocked in one of his own, Derek Jansma converted a service ace and Kyle Rehkemper hit home the winning kill to give Harvard a 25-22 set victory.
The stellar attacking cooled down in the second set, but much more for the Crimson. Harvard attacked at only an 8.7 percent conversion rate, while the Pride tallied 12 kills for a 27.3 attack percentage. Harvard opened up an early 10-7 lead in the set after another Jones kill, but Springfield would not go away easily. Kills from Mike Pelletier and John Coen, along with multiple Crimson attack errors would give the Pride a 15-13 lead. Springfield held the momentum for the rest of the set and secured a 25-20 win following an Alberto Bravo kill.
The Pride kept things going its direction in the beginning portion of the third set, opening up a four-point lead at 13-9. A kill from Nick Madden and a service ace from Michael Owen, paired with a couple of Springfield attack errors, knotted the score at 17. The lead would change four times through the final part of the set. At 27-27 though, Jones tallied his 12th kill of the match and Rehkemper and Rob Lothman blocked a Coen attack to give Harvard the set.
Harvard stormed out to a 17-9 lead in the fourth. The Pride mounted an enormous comeback though and following a Ryan Lilley kill, tied the match at 24. The teams each took turns grabbing the lead from that point, the Pride twice and the Crimson four times. It would be Harvard that would put two points together first though. Lothman set up Rehkemper for Harvard’s 31st point before Rehkemper set up Gibbons for the match-winning kill.
Jones finished with a match-high 19 kills, followed by Gibbons with 14 and Rehkemper with 12. Rehkemper led all Crimson attackers with a 42.9 attacking percentage. Harvard finished the match with 17.5 blocks with Madden assisting on nine, while Rehkemper assisted on seven and knocked down one solo block. Lothman recorded 46 of Harvard’s 53 assists.
Harvard will make its first road trip of the season this weekend, traveling to St. Francis (Pa.) and Juniata, Feb. 18 and 19, respectively. The Crimson played its first seven matches at home going 6-1 over that stretch to earn the school’s best start in 11 years.