Harvard at NJIT
Gretch and Dow average 3.00 and 1.31 kills per set, respectively (Zach Williamson).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's volleyball team travels to Princeton Friday, Feb. 26 for a 7 p.m. matchup, before playing at NJIT Saturday, Feb. 27 at 4 p.m. The contest against the Tigers will be broadcast on the Ivy League Digital Network.
Last Time Out
The Crimson swept conference foe George Mason in a two-match weekend, 3-0 on Friday and 3-1 on Saturday. Branden Clemens led Harvard's offense by posting a total of 22 kills and 24 digs in the victories. Trevor Dow commanded the defense averaging 1.14 blocks per set, while also hitting at a .667 clip.
Princeton sports a 2-7 overall mark and a 2-2 EIVA record, placing them fourth. Devlin Stearns is ranked in the top-10 in three conference categories, including third in kills per set (3.89), fifth in points per set (4.23), and eighth in hitting percentage (.270). Billy Andrew and Alex Schindele-Murayama lead the team with 0.63 blocks per set apiece, while Chris Kennedy is averaging 8.50 assists per set.
NJIT sits seventh in EIVA standings with a 0-10 overall record and a 0-2 EIVA mark. Jabarry Goodridge leads the team in kills per set with 4.44, while TJ Jurko follows averaging 3.17. Luke Robbe's .448 attack percentage and Kevin Myren's 0.79 blocks per set top the Highlanders.
Vs. Ranked Opponents
Harvard surpassed No. 15 St. Francis on Feb. 13, 3-0. It marked the first time the Crimson had defeated a ranked opponent since Jan. 23, 2015 against No. 14 Ball State, 3-0.
Men's volleyball earned the fifth spot on Harvard's Top Five Plays of the Week video on Feb. 17. In an all-around effort by Branden Clemens, the senior recovered the ball by the Crimson bench off a bad dig, keeping Harvard alive in the point. After St. Francis was unable to capitalize, Marko Kostich set the ball for Clemens to hammer down the kill. The Crimson would take the match in three sets.
Related Link: Harvard Top 5 Plays of the Week – Feb. 17, 2016
Around the EIVA
Penn State stands atop the EIVA standings with a 5-0 record, while Harvard and Sacred Heart follow at 3-1. Princeton and Saint Francis (Pa.) sit fourth and fifth, respectively, with 2-2 and 2-3 records, while George Mason (1-2), NJIT (0-2), and Charleston (0-5) round out the bottom three.
As a team, the Crimson leads the EIVA in aces (1.35 per set) and digs (9.38 per set). Harvard is also second in multiple categories, including hitting percentage (.290), kills per set (12.15), and blocks per set (2.29), while placing third in opponent hitting percentage (.261) and assists per set (11.30).
Junior outside hitter Casey White ranks sixth in digs, averaging 2.12 per set, while Brad Gretsch sits fourth in service aces with 0.36 per set. Branden Clemens holds a .309 hitting percentage, good for third, while also placing fifth with 3.75 kills per set and 2.28 digs per set. Clemens also sits sixth averaging 0.32 aces per set. Marko Kostich averages 10.20 assists per set for a second-place ranking. Sophomore Riley Moore is second in blocks per set (0.98) and freshman Trevor Dow is close behind averaging 0.90 in fourth place.
Branden Clemens has posted double-digit kills in 10 of the last 11 matches. For his career, Clemens has recorded 39 matches which he has tallied double-digit kills.
Head coach Brian Baise is in his eighth season at Harvard and is five wins away from becoming the second Crimson coach to reach 100 victories. Multiple student-athletes are also looking to ascend the Crimson record books:
|1. Matt Jones '12
6. Justin Denham '02
7. Ed Pankau '00
8. Branden Clemens '16
|1. Rob Lothman '13
2. Gil Weintruab '09
7. Conor Gaughan '02
8. Marko Kostich '18
|1. Matt Jones '12
4. Evan Beachy '98
5. Gil Weintruab '10
6. Branden Clemens '16
1. Chris Gibbons '14
|1. Ryan Estendorf '96
5. Dave Olson '98
6. Ryan Oliver '98
Seamus McKiernan '06
7. Matt Jones '12
Branden Clemens '16
|1. Ed Panaku '00
5. Kyle Rehkemper '14
6. Matt Jones '12
7. Branden Clemens '16
|1. Ed Panaku '00
7. Matt Jones '12
8. Ryan Westendorf '96
9. Branden Clemens '16
COOP Student-Athlete of the Week
Senior Branden Clemens was named COOP Student-Athlete of the Week on Jan. 12, while junior Casey White was voted the same honor on Jan. 19. Brad Gretsch recently received the accolade as he won on Feb. 17.
Aye, Aye Captain
Senior Branden Clemens was elected captain for the 2016 season. Last year, Clemens was voted All-EIVA first team and EIVA All-Academic team after posting a career-high 3.11 kills per set and 1.79 digs per set. The Carmel, Indiana native continues to climb Harvard's record books, ranking fifth in digs (439), sixth in aces (64), seventh in block assists (137) and solo blocks (28), eighth in kills (728), and ninth in total blocks (165).
Back in Crimson
Head coach Brian Baise welcomed back three starters including senior captain Brendan Clemens and sophomores Brad Gretsch and Marko Kostich. Clemens was selected to the All-EIVA first team last season after posting a career-high 3.11 kills per set and 1.79 digs per set. Kostich sits eighth on Harvard's career assists list with 831, while Gretsch finished his freshmen year with 1.76 kills per set. Senior Alister Bent and junior Samuel Murphy will both see time at libero this season.
A Year Ago
Harvard finished 2015 with a 13-12 record, including a 7-5 mark in conference play. The Crimson earned a berth to the EIVA Tournament for the fourth-consecutive year, but fell to George Mason, 3-1, in the semifinals. DJ White '15 led the Crimson with 3.24 kills per set, while AVCA honorable mention All-American Caleb Zimmick '15 ranked 13th in the country in blocks per set (1.17) and 16th in hitting percentage (.359). White was also ranked 11th in digs per set with 2.29. As a team, Harvard ranked 11th in the nation with a .277 hitting percentage and 12th in blocks per set at 2.48.
On The Sidelines
Head coach Brian Baise returns for his eighth season at the helm of the Harvard men's volleyball program. Baise owns a 95-77 record on the sidelines, including a 70-39 mark over the past five seasons.
Assistant coach Jeffrey Aucoin will return for his third season, with Harrison Hodgin and Christian Vandergeest joining the team as assistant coaches. Ahmed Ibrahim will also return with the Crimson but as its operations assistant.
The Crimson returns to the Malkin Athletic Center for its first time in two weeks, when Sacred Heart travels to Cambridge for a 4 p.m. contest on Saturday, March 5.