Men’s Volleyball Drops Five Set Affair to NJIT, 3-2

Men’s Volleyball Drops Five Set Affair to NJIT, 3-2

White climbed to eighth with 411 digs on Harvard's leaderboard (Zack Williamson).

NEWARK, N.J. – The Harvard men's volleyball team dropped a 3-2 match against conference foe NJIT on Saturday evening at the Estelle and Zoom Fleisher Athletic Center. The Highlanders downed the Crimson by set scores of 25-22, 22-25, 25-19, 20-25, and 9-15. 

Senior Branden Clemens paced the Crimson with a team-high 19 kills, while also finishing the night with 11 digs, good for his 10th double-double. Casey White and Brad Gretsch also notched double-digit kills, finishing with 12 and 11 apiece, as Marko Kostich notched 41 assists and Trevor Dow matched his career-high of six blocks. 

With the loss, Harvard (7-6, 4-2 EIVA) sits second in the conference, while NJIT (2-2, 2-10 EIVA) remains sixth. Along with a high mark in the standings, Harvard's Clemens climbed the Crimson's career leaderboard where he now ranks seventh in kills with 763 and fourth in digs with 454, as White ascended to eighth in career digs with 411. 

The two teams battled evenly in the opening set as neither team held more than a two-point advantage, and the lead was exchanged two times. A hitting percentage of -.103 and 11 errors by the Highlanders proved to be the difference, as the Crimson fended off NJIT in the first set, 25-22.

Harvard held a three-point lead until NJIT rallied with a 9-3 run, 13-9, in the third set. After a timeout called by the Crimson, Harvard was able to cut the lead to three, 13-10, but the Highlanders would keep the lead to take its first set, 25-22.

Clemens came alive in the third set, notching six of Harvard's 12 kills to help the Crimson maintain constant momentum throughout the frame giving it their second set, 25-19.

The fourth set went back and forth, until a block by Spencer Scott and Clemens gave the Crimson a three-point lead, 11-7. The Highlanders persisted and an 11-3 run would put NJIT back on top, 18-14. A timeout called by Harvard helped it regain its focus to tally four-straight points, 18-18, but the Highlanders commanded the rest of the frame off a 7-2 run, 25-20, forcing the match to a fifth set.

The Highlanders paced the final set, opening the frame with a 3-0 run and hitting .438 against Harvard's .062 percentage. NJIT recorded its highest clip only making two errors during the frame, and taking the frame by a comfortable margin, 15-9.

Harvard will return to action next weekend on Saturday, March 5 at the Malkin Athletic Center against Sacred Heart. The contest will begin at 4 p.m. and will be broadcast on the Ivy League Digital Network.