The Crimson welcomes a pair of EIVA foes to the MAC for a weekend double-header (photo courtesy Zach Williamson).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's volleyball team returns to EIVA play this weekend when it welcomes Rutgers-Newark and NJIT to the Malkin Athletic Center. The Crimson and Scarlet Raiders will first face off on Friday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. before the Highlanders venture to Cambridge for a 4 p.m. showdown on Saturday, March 1.
Last Time Out
Junior Caleb Zimmick registered his first double-double while sophomore Branden Clemens and freshman Nick Bendell tallied career-highs to lead the Harvard men's volleyball team to a 3-2 victory over Concordia Tuesday night at the Malkin Athletic Center. The non-conference win came by set scores of 25-21, 27-29, 20-25, 25-17 and 15-12.
The Crimson snapped Concordia's 10-match win streak with its third straight win in Cambridge and fifth victory in six contests.
Zimmick totaled 13 kills and a career-best 12 blocks for his first career double-double. Clemens, meanwhile, added a match-high 17 kills and seven blocks, a career best, while Bendell contributed a career-high 56 assists and six blocks.
Senior Chris Gibbons tallied 15 digs on the defensive side to go along with another career-high from Clemens who contributed eight as the Eagles were held to a .209 hitting percentage. Harvard's defense totaled 21 blocks on the night, marking the most by a Crimson squad since matching that number in a 3-2 win over Princeton April 5, 2011.
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 remained in the national mix for three-straight weeks, and has since received votes each week.
Related Link: AVCA Division I-II National Poll
For the second consecutive season, the Crimson is off to a 4-1 start in EIVA conference play. With a weekend sweep of Rutgers-Newark and NJIT Harvard can post the program's best seven-match EIVA start at 6-1. The Crimson went 5-2 to begin league play in 2012 en route to a 10-4 EIVA record and a second place regular season finish.
The Scarlet Raiders (4-6, 0-4) travel to Cambridge looking to snap a three-match skid of straight set defeats and pick up its first EIVA victory. Travis Mintzer has paced the attack with 2.52 kps while also adding 0.86 bps on the defensive side. Jack Fredricks also contributes on both sides of the net with a team-best 1.71 dps and adds 2.13 kps while Kevin McCandless has handled the setting duties (8.07 aps).
Inside the Series with the Scarlet Raiders
Despite knocking of Rutgers-Newark in the last four meetings, including two straight set victories a year ago, Harvard trails the all-time series with the Scarlet Raiders, 9-16.
The Highlanders will be in search of their first EIVA win on Saturday as the team enters play at 0-4 in the league and 5-5 overall. Jabarry Goodridge leads the squad with 3.32 kps while Kajetan Borecki has chipped in 2.53 kps. Zak Robben owns NJIT's setting responsibilities as the junior boasts 9.37 aps. Defensively, Oren Zyndorf comes into play averaging 2.45 dps while Ryan Thomas owns a team-best 0.89 bps.
Inside the Series with the Highlanders
After downing NJIT, 3-2, in the team's last meeting April 12, 2013, Harvard took a 16-15 edge in the all-time series. The Crimson has won four of the last five meetings and has swept the Highlanders eight times since the two programs began competing in 1981.
Harvard heads back on the road next weekend as the Crimson travels to George Mason Friday, March 7 at 7 p.m. and visits Princeton Saturday, March 8 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.
Harvard protected the net against Concordia, posting 21 total blocks, a season high and the most by a Crimson squad since matching that number in a 3-2 win over Princeton April 5, 2011. Currently, Harvard ranks No. 35 in the NCAA in blocks per set (1.77).
Harvard has received two double-double efforts this season. Nick Madden contributed 14 kills and 13 digs at Saint Franics (Pa.) Feb. 21 while Caleb Zimmick poured in 13 kills and 12 blocks for the first double-double of his career against Concordia Feb. 25. Six current Crimson have notched a double-double in their career with Madden leading the way with five.
Matches at the MAC
The Crimson has hosted 54 opponents in 109 matches under the roof of the Malkin Athletic Center to boast a 77-32 (.706) all-time mark at home. Harvard's home court advantage includes a record-best nine-match home win streak that lasted more than a calendar year between Feb. 18, 2012 to April 5, 2013.
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 (26-85), digs (93-327) and service aces (14-39). Offensively, the brothers have notched .417 percent (179-429) 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 9.47 aps, which lands 23rd in the NCAA and fourth in the EIVA, to lead Harvard to the nation's 23rd-best hitting percentage (.250).
Casey White was named Off the Block's National Freshman of the Week honorable mention Feb. 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.
Serving Up Aces
Senior Kyle Rehkemper recorded three aces against Concordia Feb. 25 to take sole possession of tenth place in the Harvard annals with 51 career aces. Classmate Nick Madden has totaled 49 aces, which puts him just outside Harvard's top-10.
Seven active players have already made a place for themselves in Harvard's record book. Chris Gibbons owns the top spot for career digs (657) while Will Chambers' .420 sits as the top career hitting percentage (159-36-293). Nick Madden and Kyle Rehkemper find themselves on four of the Crimson's career annals. Madden is third in block assists (192), fourth in total blocks (211), sixth in kills (736) and digs (376). Rehkemper, meanwhile sits sixth in block assists (172), eighth in total blocks (192), and tenth in aces (51) and hitting percentage (.273). DJ White and Caleb Zimmick rank in the top-10 on three lists each. White's 586 kills rank ninth while his .307 hitting percentage and 2.93 kps rank seventh and eighth, respectively. Zimmick lands on each of the block lists with 31 solo blocks (4th), 176 block assists (5th) and 207 total blocks (5th). Michael Owen's 126 block assists are 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.