Harvard fell to the nine-time NCAA Division III champion in five sets (Gil Talbot).
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Squaring off in the 29th Morgan Classic championship match against Springfield College for the second straight season, the Harvard men's volleyball team overcame a two-set deficit to extend the match to five sets before falling at Blake Arena Saturday night, 3-2. The Pride downed the Crimson by set scores of 33-35, 15-25, 25-19, 25-21 and 13-15.
Branden Clemens paced the Crimson with a career-high 23 kills on a blistering .556 hitting percentage. Brad Gretsch and Casey White also notched double-digit kills, finishing with 13 and 11 apiece, as Marko Kostich notched 47 assists and five blocks. Clemens and White were name to the All-Tournament Team for their performances over the weekend.
Harvard (3-4) and Springfield (10-1) battled evenly in the opening set as either team held more than a two-point advantage, and the lead was exchanged eight times. Five attacking errors and seven ball-handling errors by the Crimson proved to be the difference as the Pride fended off six match points before securing the opening set, 35-33.
Springfield controlled the second set, opening the frame with a 6-1 run and hitting .768 against Harvard's .125 percentage. The Pride played error-free over the final 15 points and took the set by a comfortable margin, 25-15.
Neither team could gain any breathing room in the third as Harvard held a slight 14-11 edge midway through. The Harvard attack finished with a 25-19 lead to end the set.
Clemens came alive in the fourth set, notching seven of Harvard's 13 kills to force a decisive fifth set as the Crimson eked out a 25-21 victory.
The Pride started the final stanza with a 4-1 run before the Clemson steadily clawed its way back to tie it at 13-13. Springfield took advantage following a Harvard service error, however, earning match point on Ricardo Padilla Ayala's 21st kill of the night, 15-13.
Harvard will return to action next weekend for its home opener at the Malkin Athletic Center against a pair of EIVA foes The Crimson will open with Penn State Friday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m and will welcome Saint Francis (Pa.) Saturday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. Both matches can be seen live on the Ivy League Digital Network.