Harvard vs. Saint Francis (Pa.)
The Crimson heads back on the road looking to add two wins to its unblemished EIVA resume (photo courtesy Zach Williamson).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's volleyball team looks to keep its EIVA record perfect this weekend when it heads out on the road to face Saint Francis (Pa.) and No. 12 Penn State. The Crimson will face the Red Flash on Friday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. before tangling with the Nittany Lions Saturday, Feb. 22 at 3 p.m.
Last Time Out
Harvard hit a season-high .390 en route to a convincing 3-0 victory Sunday, Feb. 16 over George Mason. The win came by set scores of 25-22, 25-18 and 25-23.
The victory was Harvard's first ever sweep of George Mason and first win for the Crimson over the Patriots at home.
The Crimson hit .390 as a team, representing the team's highest percentage since hitting .432 at Sacred Heart on April 20, 2013. Casey White scored a match-high 11 kills to finish with a .318 percentage, while brother DJ White hit .444 with nine kills. Caleb Zimmick posted a .636 percentage with eight kills, and also turned in three aces and five blocks. Nick Bendell directed the offense, dishing out 38 assists.
Rank and File
After knocking off two ranked opponents in pool play at the Asics Invitational Jan. 3, Harvard entered the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division I-II poll at a program-best 13th Jan. 6. The Crimson, which received votes in the preseason poll, remained in the national mix for three-straight weeks, and has since received votes each week.
Related Link: AVCA Division I-II National Poll
Scouting Saint Francis (Pa.)
Saint Francis (Pa.) improved to 7-4 on the year and 2-1 in the EIVA after topping Rutgers-Newark and NJIT last weekend. Logan Patterson ranks sixth in the league with 3.06 kps while his .344 hitting percentage is good for fourth. Kyle Beatty's 3.00 kps sit seventh in the conference. Mike Kresch has dished out the conference's best assists per set average (9.63) while M. Kochan's 1.17 bps lands second.
Inside the Series with the the Red Flash
Harvard has rattled off the past four victories over Saint Francis (Pa.) to hold a 5-3 advantage in the all-time series that dates back to 1994. The Crimson has posted four sweeps of the Red Flash including the last two meetings.
Scouting No. 12 Penn State
After dropping two matches at the Outrigger Hotels Invitational to open the season, Penn State has gone on to win a nation's best 10 straight to move to 10-2 overall, 3-0 in the EIVA. Aaron Russell and Nick Goodell rank first and fourth in the conference with 3.80 kps and 3.20 kps, respectively. Taylor Hammond boasts the highest assist per set average (10.87) with Connor Curry's 2.55 dps placing second. Prior to Saturday's match, the Nittany Lions entertain Sacred Heart Friday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m.
Inside the Series with the Nittany Lions
Harvard and Penn State will meet for the ninth time on Saturday, with the Crimson trailing the all-time series, 1-7. The Crimson earned its lone victory in the series last year, when Harvard blanked the Nittany Lions, 3-0, in the team's second meeting of the regular season. Roles reversed when the conference rivals met in the EIVA championship match, as Penn State earned a straight set victory over the Crimson.
Harvard concludes its first rotation through EIVA play next weekend when it welcomes Rutgers-Newark and NJIT to Cambridge. The Crimson hosts the Scarlet Raiders Friday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m., before entertaining the Highlanders Saturday, March 1 at 4 p.m.
Harvard will host its second annual EIVA Rally night Friday, April 4 against Penn State to help raise funds and awareness towards cancer research. The EIVA formed the "EIVA Rallies" campaign last year to benefit the Memorial Sloan-Keetering Cancer Center. For more information or to make a donation, please click here.
The White Brothers
Casey and DJ White have been instrumental to the Crimson on both sides of the net thus far this season. The Hermosa Beach, Calif., natives have combined for nearly a third of Harvard's blocks (18-49), digs (67-196) and service aces (10-28). Offensively, the brothers have notched .431 percent (122-283) of the Crimson's attack.
Setting it Up
Nick Bendell has served as the Crimson's primary setter in his first collegiate campaign. Bendell has dished out 9.17 aps, which lands 24th in the NCAA and fifth in the EIVA, to lead Harvard to the nation's 22nd-best hitting percentage (.255).
Casey White was named Off the Block's National Freshman of the Week honorable mention February 17 after helping the Crimson to a 2-0 weekend to remain undefeated in conference play. The outside hitter posted 11 kills and an ace in a five-set thriller against Princeton Thursday, Feb. 13, and helped Harvard to its first-ever sweep of George Mason Sunday, Feb. 16 with a team-high 11 kills on a .318 hitting percentage.
Related Link: Off the Block
And the Award Goes To
Two Crimson student-athletes have earned EIVA Defensive Player of the Week accolades thus far this season.
DJ White earned the honor after pacing Harvard with 2.43 kps, 1.57 kps and 1.5 bps for the Crimson's efforts against two top-15 teams Jan. 27. Kyle Rehkemper was tabbed defensive player of the week for his 2.00 bps, 1.00 kps, 2.50 points per set and .333 hitting percentage performance in Harvard's EIVA opener against Sacred Heart Feb 7.
DJ White and Rehkemper have been selected for best player over a seven-day stretch three times each.
Harvard protected the net against MIT, posting 16 total blocks, a season high and the most by a Crimson squad since tallying 18 in a 3-2 win over NJIT April 12, 2013. Currently, Harvard ranks No. 36 in the NCAA in blocks per set (1.67).
Caleb Zimmick has posted 21 total blocks this season to average 0.84 bps which lands 55th on the national list.
Serving Up Aces
Seniors Nick Madden and Kyle Rehkemper have totaled 47 career aces each, which puts them just three shy of entering Harvard's career-top 10. Currently, Madden is tied for 48th in the nation with 0.28 aces per set while the Crimson as a team rank 24th (1.08).
Seven active players have already made a place for themselves in Harvard's record book. Chris Gibbons owns the top spot for career digs (619) while Will Chambers' .420 sits atop career hitting percentage (159-36-293). Nick Madden finds himself on four of the Crimson's career annals as the senior is third in block assists (187), tied for fifth in total blocks (206), sixth in kills (709) and seventh in digs (345). DJ White and Caleb Zimmick rank in the top-10 in three lists each. White's 546 kills rank 10th while his .308 hitting percentage and 2.89 kps rank seventh and eighth, respectively. Zimmick lands on each of the block lists with 29 solo blocks (T-5th), 160 block assists (6th) and 189 (7th) total blocks. Kyle Rehkemper appears on two lists as the senior sits fifth in block assists (162) and eighth in total blocks (179). Michael Owen's 124 block assists is good for seventh.
Related Link: Men's Volleyball Record Book
Seniors Chris Gibbons and Kyle Rehkemper earned spots on the 50th Asics Invitational All-Tournament team after helping Harvard down two ranked opponents – then-No. 5 Stanford and then-No. 8 UCSB – to reach the championship round of the invite. Rehkemper contributed to the Crimson's offense with 13 kills and a .792 hitting percentage while Gibbons registered nine digs.
Coming off an appearance in the EIVA Tournament championship, Harvard has been picked third in the 2014 EIVA Preseason Poll. The Crimson's third place pick is its highest ever finish in the poll with 23 points.
Defending champion Penn State was chosen to repeat, receiving seven of the eight first-place votes for nine points while Princeton was selected second with a total of 20 points and the one remaining first-place vote. George Mason (32 points), St. Francis (Pa.) (38), NJIT (50), Sacred Heart (52) and Rutgers-Newark (64) rounded out the preseason rankings.
Related Link: Men's Volleyball Tabbed Third in EIVA Preseason Poll
Ivy League Digital Network
For the first time ever, each of Harvard's 11 home matches will be streamed in HD quality featuring a live scoreboard, new graphics package and play-by-play commentary through the Ivy League Digital Network. Subscribers to the network can watch matches both live and on-demand at their convenience, and will have access to live and on-demand content for all Harvard athletics events throughout the duration of their subscription.