Men’s Volleyball Takes Down No. 15 Ohio State in Five

The Crimson downed a top-15 for the third-time in program history (photo courtesy Zack Williamson). 

COLUMBUS, Ohio - For the second time in as many days, the Harvard men's volleyball team's match went the distance as the Crimson rallied to take down No.15 Ohio State in its non-conference final at St. John's Arena Tuesday night. The victory came by set scores of 25-15, 25-19, 20-25, 21-25 and 17-15.

The win is Harvard's fourth five set victory of the season, and third time the Crimson has knocked off a a top-15 opponent in the last three years. Ohio State (8-12), meanwhile, has dropped six of its last seven matches, including three in five sets.  

Four different Crimson players posted double-digit kills led by junior DJ White who scored 13 and tallied 10 digs for his second double-double of the season and third overall. Senior Kyle Rehkemper contributed 12 kills on a .611 clip while classmate Nick Madden and freshman Casey White each chipped in 11. Nick Bendell dished out 50 assists as Harvard's primary setter.  

Defensively, Harvard turned away 13 Ohio attempts at the net paced by six blocks from junior Caleb Zimmick. Madden and Rehekmper turned in five blocks each, while C. White and Bendell contributed to the defensive effort with seven digs apiece.  

The Buckeyes also received four different players post double-digit kill performances as Driss Guessous recorded a match-best 18 on  a .481 hitting percentage. Miles Johnson registered 16 kills, while Michael Hency and Alex Judkins added 14 kills and 13 kills, respectively.  

Harvard opened the match with a 6-2 run to force an Ohio State timeout. DJ White tallied two kills during the stretch while Zimmick and Bendell teamed up for a block. The Buckeyes' break ended the Crimson's run as Johnson scored a kill, but Harvard rebounded with a 4-1 spurt that featured blocks from DJ White, Zimmick and Rehkemper to push the score to 10-3. Out of Ohio State's second timeout of the set, the team's traded points before Harvard recored four answered points behind C. White at the service line to take a 10-point lead, 20-10.The Buckeyes used a 4-1 stretch of its own to pull back within eight, 21-13, but the Crimson held onto its momentum to take the first set, 25-15.  

Tied at 6-6 after back-and-forth action to open the second stanza, the Crimson used a C. White kill and block from Madden and Zimmick to take its first lead of the second set, 7-6. The score would equalize two more times before Harvard rattled off a 12-3 run which include five unanswered points to hold a 20-11 advantage. Ohio State attempted a comeback and closed the gap to three points of the leader, 22-19, but that run was ended by a block from Bendell and Zimmick for a 23-19 edge. Two Buckeyes errors gave the set to the Crimson, 25-19.  

Harvard fell into a 7-2 hole in the third set before rallying back with a 4-0 stretch to pull within four, 8-12. A kill from DJ White moved the score to 14-16, but a 5-3 run by Ohio State kept the home team on top, 21-17. Trailing 23-19, Madden scored a kill for the Crimson, but the Buckeyes recorded two straight points to close the set, 25-20.  

It was the Crimson who took an early lead in the fourth set, 5-2. Following a block by C. White Harvard's advantage pushed to 9-6 before Ohio used a 6-3 stretch to knot the frame, 12-12. The Crimson managed to hold onto the lead despite the set tying six times over the next 12 points until Judkins' kill put the Buckeyes in front by one, 19-18. Out of a Harvard timeout, DJ White evened the set for the seventh time, but Ohio scored six of the final eight points to give the Buckeyes the win, 25-21, and force a fifth frame. 

See-saw action opened the fifth and final set before a Rehkemper kill jump started a 4-1 Crimson run to bring the score to 7-5. Back-to-back Ohio errors and DJ White kills gave Harvard some breathing room, 12-8, before a 6-2 stretch from the host tied the match at 14-14. A kill from Madden coupled with a block from Zimmick sealed the victory for the Crimson, 17-15.  

Harvard returns to the court Friday, March 28 when it hosts Sacred Heart at the MAC. The 7 p.m. EIVA showdown can be seen live on the Ivy League Digital Network.