Rehkemper led the squad with six total blocks (photo courtesy Mark Selders).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's volleyball team notched 16 team blocks en route to a 3-1 victory over crosstown rival MIT Saturday night at duPont Gymnasium, earning the Crimson's first victory of the season.
The 16 team blocks are the most for the Crimson since Harvard (1-3) totaled 18 in a 3-2 win over NJIT April 12, 2013. Senior Kyle Rehkemper led Harvard at the net with six total blocks, which are the most for a single player since Caleb Zimmick recorded seven blocks in a 3-2 victory in the 2013 EIVA semifinals last season over George Mason.
Casey White led the offensive charge with a career-high 14 kills and .426 hitting percentage while senior Nick Madden contributed a well-rounded performance with 12 kills, four service aces, three digs and three blocks. Nick Bendell and Michael Owen shared the setting responsibilities, as the freshman and senior handed out 22 assists and 20 assists, respectively.
MIT (2-1), which ranks 12th in the AVCA Division III poll, received eight kills from Chris Omahan and Martin Krasuski, respectively.
A back and forth affair that featured 12 ties and four lead changes opened up the first frame. A Casey White kill knotted the score at 14-14, but MIT answered with a kill from Paul Syta and block from Andrew Busse to force a Crimson timeout. Out of the short break, Harvard capitalized on a number of Engineer errors and a kill from sophomore Branden Clemens to pull within one, 18-17. MIT responded with the final seven points to take the first set, 25-17.
Harvard dominated the second set, taking a 9-6 lead on a kill by Rehkemper. MIT fought back and pulled within three on a kill by junior Alex Kleing. The Crimson used a 13-4 run, paced by a pair of aces from Madden and a kill by the senior to close the stanza, 25-13
Harvard opened the third frame with seven unanswered points to take a 9-3 advantage that blossomed to a 19-10 lead. On an ace by freshman Martin Krasuki, the Engineers narrowed the gap to four, 20-16, but the Crimson surged on claiming five of the next six points to take the set, 25-17.
The Crimson slowly established a 16-11 lead in the fourth frame. The Engineers chipped away at Harvard's lead and an ace by freshman Aaron Zalewski brought the set within one, 18-17. Harvard used a timeout to regroup. Rehkemper sparked a 7-2 match-ending run out of the break to take the match, 25-19.
Harvard travels to Fairfield, Conn., Friday, Feb. 8 to open EIVA play at Sacred Heart.