The Crimson registered a season-high 18.5 blocks to rally back from a 2-0 deficit (Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's volleyball team escaped the Malkin Athletic Center with a win Friday night, defeating NJIT 21-25, 18-25, 25-22, 25-23 and 17-15.
Harvard (15-8, 8-4 EIVA) was forced to play with its back against the wall after NJIT (6-19, 3-8) limited the Crimson to a .123 hitting percentage through the first two sets. Harvard was up to the challenge, however, coming all the way back from down 2-0 for the five set victory.
DJ White led the Crimson attack with 16 kills as Kyle Rehkemper added 13 kills while hitting .348. Michael Owen chipped in 11 kills off the bench and Caleb Zimmick chipped in eight with a .400 hitting percentage. Rob Lothman dished out a season-high 57 assists.
The Crimson's early shortcomings on offense were made up for in the latter stages of the match by its defensive prowess. Harvard totaled a season-high 18.5 blocks, its highest total since notching 21.0 versus Princeton on March 5, 2011, to limit the Highlanders to .196 hitting. Caleb Zimmick was at the forefront with a career-high nine blocks to go with eight blocks from Rehkemper and five apiece from Lothman, Owen and Alec Schlossman. Chris Gibbons contributed 10 digs.
Kajetan Borecki scored 20 kills and hit .410 to highlight NJIT's night as Zak Robben tallied 55 assists. Oren Zyndorf added 19 digs with Borecki and Doug Bettersby each registering seven blocks on defense.
It was all Highlanders in the early going as NJIT led the entire way en route to a 25-21 victory in the first. Harvard held the lead briefly in the second set, but the Highlanders took control and rolled to a 25-18 win for the 2-0 advantage.
The third set was tied at 11-11 until a 6-0 run by the Crimson opened a 17-11 margin. NJIT committed four errors during the spurt with Zimmick and Owen each contributing a kill. The Highlanders came back to make it a two-point game, 23-21, before a kill by White and a block by Lothman gave Harvard set point, 25-22.
It was another close one in the fourth as the teams found themselves even at the midway point, 14-14. A NJIT service error gave the Crimson a lead it would not relinquish, however, as Zimmick scored a kill to put the frame away, 25-23.
The Highlanders stormed out to a 7-4 lead in the fifth and held serve with a shot at match point, 14-12. Back-to-back kills by Schlossman and Owen tied things up at 14-14, and a block by Zimmick and Owen once again evened the score at 15-15. A second block by the duo gave Harvard its first opportunity at set point and Zimmick put away an over pass to steal the match, 17-15.
Harvard returns to the MAC tomorrow to hosts Rutgers-Newark at 2 p.m. in the team's final home match of the season.