Harvard men's volleyball returns to action on Saturday versus Erskine (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).
In its final nonconference match of the season, the Harvard men's volleyball team hosts first-year program Erskine on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Malkin Athletic Center. The Crimson (12-7) takes the court after an 11-day break from competition and opens a five-match home stand versus the Flying Fleet (13-12).
Follow the Action
A live video stream featuring play-by-play man Ben Altsher will be available through GoCrimson.com by clicking video . Live stats will also be available.
Last Time Out
The Harvard men's volleyball team fell in straight sets to Concordia (CA) University, 25-23, 25-18, 25-23, on Tuesday, March 19, in CU Arena. The loss moved the Crimson to 12-7 on the year and bumped the Eagles to 17-5. DJ White delivered a match-high 13 kills and a team-leading .400 hitting percentage, his seventh match of the season with 10 or more kills. Nick Madden was second among all players with 11 kills on a .400 hitting percentage. Rob Lothman topped the squad with 27 assists, while Caleb Zimmickadded a team-best 2.5 blocks and six kills on .400 hitting.
Around the League
Harvard is currently in fourth place of the EIVA standings with a 6-3 conference mark and a 12-7 overall record. Prior to matches played on Thursday, the Crimson is second in the conference in hitting percentage (.257) and aces (1.18), fourth in assists (11.18), kills (11.97) and blocks (2.36), and ranks sixth in digs (8.75).
DJ White, Caleb Zimmick rank second and third in the league with hitting percentages of .331 and .324, respectively, while Branden Clemens is 10th with a .277 attack. White also ranks sixth in the EIVA for kills per set at 3.29 and is joined by Nick Madden with 2.90 kps for 10th in the stat column. Chris Gibbons comes in fourth among liberos with 2.51 dps, while Rob Lothman is fourth among EIVA setters with 10.02 aps. Zimmick also boasts the third best blocking average at 1.23 bps with Kyle Rehkemper chipping in 0.87 bps, seventh in the conference. At the service line, Rehkemper rates sixth the EIVA in aces per set average (0.33), while Michael Owen is seventh at 0.28 and Clemens is 10th at 0.22.
Men's volleyball national ranking summary through games played March 24.
The 2013 season is the first for men's volleyball at Erskine. The Flying Fleet stands at 13-12 on the year and brings a three-match win streak to New England when they meet Sacred Heart on Thursday, March 28. Erskine will have one regular-season match when it returns to Due West, S.C., before beginning its conference tournament.
Heading into Thursday's match, Erskine was averaging 12.4 kills kps on .229 hitting, while holding opponents to a .207 attack and 10.4 kps. The Flying Fleet produce 1.8 bps and one ace each game. Erskine looks to Mike Michelau and Mike Kawa, who lead the team on offense with 3.37 and 3.30 kps, respectively. Corey Marks is the primary setter (7.84 aps) and Michael Schneck (2.76 dps) is the libero.
This is the first meeting between the two programs.
Approaching the Postseason
With two weeks remaining of the regular season, Harvard is in the EIVA Tournament with the fourth and final spot. However, the Crimson can improve its standing as all five of its remaining league matches come against teams immediately above or below the Crimson in the standings, including the first four at home. In 2012, the second-seed Harvard team fell to third-seed George Mason, 3-0.
Keep on Blockin'
Middle blocker Caleb Zimmick registered a career-high nine blocks against Sacred Heart on March 13. The outing marked the third time this season that Zimmick has recorded seven or more blocks and the 12th time in the sophomore's young career with at least five blocks in a match.
Harvard won six straight matches from Feb. 2 to Feb. 23, it longest streak since winning 13 in a row in 2005. During that span, the Crimson won four matches in straight sets, also matching the 2005 team's streak of four consecutive sweeps.
Harvard has fallen from the AVCA Division I-II Poll after being ranked in consecutive weeks from Feb. 25 to March 4. The Crimson reached as high as No. 14, the highest ranking in program history.
Taking Home the Hardware
Sophomore DJ White earned a pair of weekly honors earlier this year, being named both the AVCA Division I-II National Player of the Week and EIVA Offensive Player of the Week. The praise comes after White averaged 4.17 kills per set and hit .477 as the Crimson knocked off No. 9 Penn State and St. Francis (Pa.) in straight sets.
White is the first member of the Crimson to earn the national recognition. He has been named the conference's offensive player of the week twice this season and has earned the distinction three times in his career.
The Crimson ended a 51-match drought for conference opponents versus Penn State when it upset the ninth-ranked Nittany Lions Feb. 15, 3-0. Penn State's last loss to an EIVA conference foe came on March 7, 2008 to George Mason, 3-1.
Harvard's 3-0 victory over then ninth-ranked Penn State marked the team's second win over a ranked opponent in as many years. Last season, the Crimson knocked off No. 12 Call State Northridge, 3-1, to record the program's first victory against a ranked team under head coach Brian Baise.
Harvard is 21-6 in the friendly confines of the Malkin Athletic Center since the start of 2011 including a 5-0 mark this year. The Crimson has won 10 straight matches at home dating back to last season and has captured each of its last three home openers.
The Crimson recorded 17.5 blocks at No. 6 Penn State, the team's highest total over the last three seasons. Caleb Zimmick led the way with eight total blocks as Michael Owen and Kyle Rehkemper each turned in seven. Nick Madden and Rob Lothman also got in on the action, registering six blocks and four blocks, respectively.
Harvard's season high for blocks in 2012 was 17 at Rutgers-Newark.
Harvard swept Stevens, NYU and St. Francis (Pa.) to open the year, marking the third straight season that the Crimson has started the year with at least two victories. Harvard's three straight-set victories, meanwhile, had not been accomplished since 1993 when the squad posted four sweeps in its first four matches.
Catch the Crimson in 2012
Harvard will host 11 home matches at the Malkin Athletic Center this season and each will be streamed live online through GoCrimson.com. Fans can also watch each match On Demand approximately two hours after completion. One-year subscriptions are available for $49.95 and allow access to every home event streamed by the Crimson, including football, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's hockey and men's soccer. For more information or to sign up today, click here.
Captaining the Ship
Rob Lothman and Nick Madden will serve as the team's captains for the 2013 season. Lothman was named to the All-EIVA second team in 2012 after setting a career-high with 888 assists, the fifth-best single-season total in program history. Lothman directed the Crimson attack to a .298 hitting percentage, which ranked seventh in the NCAA, while his 10.1 assists per set were good for 18th in the nation. Madden, meanwhile, started all 24 matches last year for the Crimson and ranked second on the squad in kills (3.01) and points (3.6). His 268 kills in 2012 were good for eighth in program history while his 147 career blocks rank his sixth all-time.
Harvard is coming off one of the most successful seasons in program history, as the Crimson earned its first-ever national ranking in 2012 and finished the year at No. 15 in the AVCA Coaches Poll. Harvard posted an 18-6 overall record and took second in the EIVA with a 10-4 conference mark, with the team's 18 wins representing the third-highest total ever.
Head coach Brian Baise was tabbed as the EIVA Coach of the Year as a result of the squad's success while Matt Jones, DJ White and Rob Lothman all earned all-conference accolades.