The Crimson will honor its five seniors Saturday night (photo courtesy Zach Williamson).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The No. 15 Harvard men's volleyball team will close out its home schedule this weekend as it hosts Penn State, which is tied for 12th in the nation, and Saint Francis (Pa.) at the Malkin Athletic Center. The Crimson will first take the court Friday, April 4 against the Nittany Lions in its EIVA Rallies and student-rewards match at 7 p.m., before welcoming the Red Flash to Cambridge for Senior Night Saturday, April 5 at 4 p.m.
Harvard's match against Penn State Friday, April 4 marks the Crimson's second annual EIVA Rallies Night, a campaign 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.
Friday's contest versus Penn State also serves as the men's volleyball match in the Harvard CrimZone Student Rewards Program. A free giveaway and three points will be given to all students in attendance that swipe their HUID at the marketing table for entry to the grand prize drawing, which will be announced at the men's lacrosse game Saturday, April 19.
Thank You, Seniors!
Harvard will honor the playing careers of this year's graduating seniors, Will Chambers, Chris Gibbons, Nick Madden, Michael Owen and Kyle Rehkemper, prior to Saturday's match against Saint Francis. The Class of 2014 has helped the Crimson to a 12-6 mark this season and owns a 57-37 record over the course of their careers. These five seniors have led Harvard to back-to-back appearances in the EIVA tournament and the program's first and highest AVCA national ranking, while etching each of their names in the program's record book along the way.
Scouting No. 12 Penn State
Penn State earned a sweep of Princeton and George Mason last weekend to remain atop the EIVA standings with an overall record of 17-6, 8-1 in conference. The Nittany Lions rank first in the league in kills (13.49) and hitting percentage (.304), but is near the bottom in blocks (2.14).
Aaron Russell leads the conference with 4.01 kps while Nick Goodell is second with 3.54 kps. Russell's .347 hitting percentage ranks seventh with Taylor Hammond's 11.17 aps good for first in the EIVA. The defense has been paced by Connor Curry's 2.33 dps as Matt Callaway leads the charge at the net with 0.78 bps.
Inside the Series with the Nittany Lions
Harvard and Penn State will clash for the 10th time on Friday, with the Crimson trailing the all-time series, 1-8. In the programs first meeting this season, Harvard dropped a 3-0 decision to the Nittany Lions.
Scouting Saint Francis (Pa.)
Saint Francis has dropped seven consecutive matches to sit fifth in the conference standings with a 9-12 overall mark, 4-5 in the EIVA. The Red Flash ranks fourth in the conference with 12.13 kps and is third in hitting percentage at .290. Saint Francis' defense is second in blocks (3.14) and eighth in digs (7.59).
Logan Patterson is tops on the team with 2.59 kps while Mark Kochan's .482 hitting percentage ranks first on the team and in the league. Lucas Behringer paces the squad in digs at 2.03 per set as Kochan stands second in the conference with 1.17 bps.
Inside the Series with the Red Flash
Harvard registered a 3-1 victory at Saint Francis in the first meeting between the teams this year to hold a 6-3 advantage in the all-time series that dates back to 1994. Nick Madden totaled 14 kills and 13 digs for a double-double and DJ White added 17 kills while hitting .390.
Harvard will be back in action next weekend as it wraps up the regular season on the road. The Crimson will visit NJIT Friday, April 11 at 7 p.m., before taking on Rutgers Newark Saturday, April 12 at 2 p.m.
Last Time Out
Trailing 18-12 in the third set, Harvard rallied to take the set, 26-24, and secure the sweep over Sacred Heat March 28 at the Malkin Athletic Center. The victory came by set scores of 25-17, 26-24 and 26-24.
The win marked Harvard's sixth straight-set victory of the season and seventh consecutive at home.
For the third straight match and 11th time this year, DJ White led the Crimson's attack as the junior scored 13 kills. The Hermosa Beach, Calif., native contributed 12 digs on the defensive end to notch his third double-double of the season and fourth of his career. Classmate Caleb Zimmick chipped in seven kills while brother Casey White recorded six. Freshman Nick Bendell handled the setting duties with 25 assists. Seniors Nick Madden and Kyle Rehkemper added to the Harvard defensive efforts with 13 digs and eight blocks, respectively.
Where We Stand
At 8-2, Harvard is in second in the EIVA standings behind Penn State which sits atop the league with an 8-1 conference mark. Princeton's 8-3 record is good for third while George Mason lands fourth at 5-5. St. Francis comes in at fifth with a 4-5 ledger and Sacred Heart (3-8) ranks sixth. NJIT (2-6) and Rutgers-Newark (0-8) round out the standings in seventh and eighth, respectively.
The Crimson started EIVA play at 6-1 for the first time in program history. With the sweep of Rutgers-Newark and NJIT, Harvard displaced its prior record to start league action of 5-2, set in 2012 en route to a 10-4 EIVA record and second place regular-season finish.
Rank and File
Following a 3-2 upset win over then-No. 15 Ohio State, Harvard re-entered the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division I-II poll at 15th March 23. The Crimson initially appeared in the poll at a program-best 13th Jan. 6, where it stayed for three weeks after knocking off two ranked opponents in pool play at the Asics Invitational to open its season.
Related Link: AVCA Division I-II National Poll
The Crimson has hosted 55 opponents in 113 matches under the roof of the Malkin Athletic Center and boasts an 81-32 (.717) all-time mark at home. Harvard's home-court advantage includes a record-best nine-match win streak that lasted more than a calendar year between Feb. 18, 2012 to April 5, 2013. Currently the Crimson has won seven-straight in the friendly confines of the MAC.
Caleb Zimmick hit an .889 clip in the team's 3-0 victory over Marymount (Va.), registering eight kills on nine attempts. The junior ranks eighth in the nation with a .439 hitting percentage and is second in the EIVA, while DJ White is ninth in the league with a .289 mark. As a team, the Crimson ranks 18th in the NCAA and fourth in the conference with a .274 percentage and has hit over .300 in a match 10 times this season.
DJ White has scored 186 kills this season, including a career-best 26 at then-No. 13 Ball State March 16, the most for a Crimson player since Nick Madden scored 27 in a 3-0 win at Cal-Baptist March 13, 2011. The junior's team-high 3.21 kps is the fifth best in the conference and 35th in the nation. As a team, Harvard notches the NCAA's 27th-best kills per set average with 11.79.
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. 25 in the NCAA in blocks per set (2.15). On the individual list, Caleb Zimmick (1.11 bps) sits 18th, while Kyle Rehkemper (0.86 bps) is in a three-way tie at 49th.
Harvard has received seven double-double efforts this season with Nick Madden DJ White each contributing three. Caleb Zimmick notched his first career double-double against Concordia Feb. 16. Madden leads the six active Crimson who have notched a double-double in their career with seven.
The White Brothers
Casey and DJ White have been instrumental to the Crimson on both sides of the net this season. The Hermosa Beach, Calif., natives have combined for nearly one-third of Harvard's blocks (42-132), digs (196-667) and service aces (23-65). Offensively, the brothers have notched 43.1 percent (346-802) 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 9.56 aps, which lands 22nd in the NCAA and third in the EIVA.
Serving Up Aces
Senior Nick Madden has turned in a total of 16 aces this season, bringing his career total to 56, putting him in eighth place on Harvard's career list. The Crimson's 0.96 aces per set rank 28th in the NCAA. Classmate Kyle Rehkemper looks to enter the Crimson aces annals as the middle blocker has totaled 53.
And the Award Goes To
Harvard has earned six EIVA weekly awards this season with three Crimson student-athletes garnering an honor.
Nick Madden picked up three straight defensive player of the week nods March 10-23, while DJ White has been named the best defensive and offensive player of the week. Kyle Rehkmper was tabbed the best defensive player over a seven-day stretch for his performance in Harvard's EIVA opener against Sacred Heart Feb. 7.
Related Links : DJ White Earns EIVA Defensive Player of the Week Honors | Rehkemper Named EIVA Defensive Player of the Week | Madden Tabbed EIVA Defensive Player of the Week | DJ White Madden Sweep EIVA Weekly Awards | Madden Picks Up Third Straight EIVA Defensive Player of the Week Honor
Two Harvard freshman have been named to Off the Block's National Freshman of the Week honorable mention list this season. Casey White earned a spot twice this year, picking up the accolade following his efforts in a 2-0 week for the Crimson Feb. 17 and again on March 3 after posting 2.25 kps, 1.13 dps and 0.25 bps in a 3-0 week for Harvard. Nick Bendell received the nod after a 50-assist performance that guided Harvard's offense to a .300 hitting percentage in a five-set upset victory over then-No. 15 Ohio State.
Related Link: Off the Block
Eight active players have already made a place for themselves in Harvard's record book. Chris Gibbons owns the top spot for career digs (734) while Will Chambers' .435 hitting percentage sits atop the career list. Nick Madden finds himself on five of the Crimson's career annals; third in block assists (211), kills (802) and digs (449), fifth in total blocks (231) and eighth in aces (56). DJ White and Caleb Zimmick rank in the top-10 on four lists each. DJ White holds the seventh best hitting percentage (.308), total kills (685) and kills per set (3.02), and eighth best total digs (348). Zimmick lands third in hitting percentange (.403) and fourth on each of the blocks lists with 36 solo blocks, 204 block assists and 240 total blocks. Kyle Rehkemper has etched his named on three lists as the senior sits fifth in block assists (193), sixth in total blocks (215) and ninth in hitting percentage (.295). Michael Owen's 130 block assists and 140 total blocks are good for seventh and 10th, respectively, while Nick Bendell's 602 assists land 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 was 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.