With 18 kills, DJ White helped the Crimson to a program-best 6-1 EIVA start (photo courtesy Zack Williamson).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's volleyball team completed its weekend sweep of Rutgers-Newark and NJIT Saturday afternoon by taking out the Highlanders in straight sets, 3-0, at the Malkin Athletic Center. The victory came by set scores of 25-16, 25-19 and 25-14.
The Crimson made history with the win, as Harvard moved to 6-1 in EIVA action, the program's best start in conference play, and 8-4 overall. The victory also marked the Crimson's ninth sweep of the Highlanders, who dropped to 5-6 overall and 0-5 in league action.
Junior DJ White recorded a season-high 18 kills and hit .593 on the night to help lead the attack. Brother Casey White also reached double-digits with 11 kills while senior Nick Madden contributed seven and junior Caleb Zimmick six. Freshman Nick Bendell passed out 37 assists to lead Harvard to its highest hitting clip of the season, .442, and best since hitting .493 in a 3-0 win against Rutgers-Newark April 13, 2013.
Senior Chris Gibbons led the defense with a season-best 16 digs. Madden chipped in 12 digs while Zimmick posted five blocks.
Freshman Jabarry Goodridge's eight kills led NJIT's attack.
After NJIT opened the match with a kill from Jabarry, Harvard poured in five unanswered points to take an early, 5-1 lead. The Crimson's momentum continued with an 8-3 spurt which featured two of DJ White's seven first set kills to bring the score to 13-5 and force a Highlanders timeout. NJIT rallied out of the break with a 5-2 stretch of its own to pull within five, 15-10. The visitors did not get any closer as the team's traded points and a kill by Zimmick brought the score to 22-15. Casey White's fifth kill of the set capped off three consecutive Crimson points to seal the 25-16 first frame victory.
The Highlanders kept the score close early in the second set, but a kill by Zimmick gave the Crimson the edge, 11-10. Harvard raced out to an 18-14 lead and fought off a late run by NJIT that brought the score to a three-point differential, three times, but held onto the lead, 23-18. Following a Highlanders timeout, kills by DJ White and Madden put the set away, 25-19.
Harvard held a 7-3 advantage early in the final frame before a 6-2 run equalized the set at 9. The Crimson responded with a 7-2 spurt to a grab a 16-11 edge. Casey and DJ White each contributed three kills during the stretch. Two more kills from DJ White helped move the score to 22-13 before Madden scored match point, 25-14.
Harvard returns to action next weekend as it embarks on a road trip to George Mason Friday, March 7 at 7 p.m. and ventures to Princeton Saturday, March 8 at 4 p.m.