Men’s Volleyball Travels to Pennsylvania to Battle No. 11 Penn State, St. Francis

Men’s Volleyball Travels to Pennsylvania to Battle No. 11 Penn State, St. Francis

Match Info
Series Record
Last Meeting

Harvard at No. 11 Penn State
Friday, April 8, 2016
7 p.m.
Rec Hall
Live stats
Harvard trails, 1-12
L, 3-0 (Feb. 12, 2016)

Match Info
Series Record
Last Meeting

Harvard at Saint Francis (Pa.)
Saturday, April 9, 2016
4 p.m.
The Maurice Stokes Athletics Center
Live stats
Harvard leads, 9-4
W, 3-0 (Feb. 13, 2016)

Head coach Brian Baise tallied his 100th career win last weekend (Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's volleyball team heads to Pennsylvania for a Friday night match at 7 p.m. against No. 11 Penn State and a Saturday evening contest at 4 p.m. versus St. Francis. The Crimson will face the Nittany Lions on the GoPSUnow network.

Last Time Out
The Crimson swept Charleston (W.Va.) last weekend, 3-1 Friday night and 3-0 Saturday evening at the Malkin Athletic Center. Head coach Brian Baise earned his 100th-career win on Saturday, making him the second Harvard men's volleyball coach to reach the milestone. Brad Gretsch led the Crimson with 26 total kills and six total blocks in the victories. Branden Clemens also assisted in the effort as he recorded 23 total kills and four services aces, while Trevor Dow tallied a season-high five aces. 

Scouting No. 11 Penn State
No. 11 Penn State tops the conference standings with a 16-7 overall record and a 9-1 EIVA mark. The Nittany Lions' have seen Chris Nugent earn EIVA Offensive Player of the Week three times, while Matt Seifert and Matt Callaway were named Defensive Player of the Week once apiece. Nugent leads Penn State with a .300 hitting percentage and 3.81 kills per set, while Callaway averages 1.06 blocks per set and Taylor Hammond records 10.99 assists per set. 

Scouting Saint Francis (Pa.)
St. Francis is fourth in the  EIVA standings with a 15-8 overall record and a 6-4 mark in conference play. The Red Flash's Jeff Hogan was named EIVA Offensive Player of the Week twice as Stephen Braswell earned the award once. Gabe Woffindin and Mike Marshman clinched EIVA Defensive Player of the Week twice, while Hogan and Keith Kegerreis tallied the honor once. Marshman tops the conference with a .392 hitting percentage, as Nugent averages 3.81 kills per set, good for second. 

Around the EIVA
No. 11 Penn State stands atop the EIVA standings with a 9-1 record, while Harvard follows at 7-3. NJIT holds a 7-4 mark, as Saint Francis (Pa.) and George Mason are tied for fourth with 6-4 records each. Sacred Heart sits in sixth with a 4-6 record, while Princeton and Charleston (W.Va.) round out the final two spots in the conference with 3-8 and 0-12 marks, respectively.

EIVA Leaders
The Crimson tops the league in three categories including hitting percentage (.309), digs per sest (8.81), and aces per set (1.40). Harvard ranks second in blocks per set (2.23) and opponent hitting percentage (.247), while also placing third in assists per set (12.00) and fourth in kills per set (12.15).

Brad Gretsch sits second in aces averaging 0.40 per set and fifth in hitting percentage with a .296 clip. Branden Clemens holds a .328 hitting percentage, good for third, while also ranking fourth with 3.75 kills per set. Clemens also falls ninth among the conference in digs per set (1.99) and 10th in aces per set (0.29). Marko Kostich averages 10.09 assists per set for a third-place ranking, while Casey White ranks fourth in digs per set with 2.25 and sixth in hitting percentage with a .285 clip. Riley Moore is fourth, while Trevor Dow is seventh averaging 0.95 and 0.86 blocks per set, respectively.

Honor Roll
Junior Casey White was named EIVA Defensive Player of the Week on March 7 after posting a career-high 21 digs in 3-0 triumph over Sacred Heart. Freshman Trevor Dow was named EIVA Defensive Player of the Week on Feb. 29 after registering a career-high six blocks in a 3-0 victory at Princeton and again the following night at NJIT. The Needham, Massachusetts native also was named Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Freshman of the Week honorable mention on each week from Feb. 22-March 21 and April 4. 

Related Links:

Dow Recognized as EIVA Defensive Player of the Week
White Recognized as EIVA Defensive Player of the Week

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. 

Brad Gretsch returned a difficult serve from Charleston (W.Va.) that reached the banners as Casey White hit the ball to keep it alive and Samuel Murphy swung the ball over the net from back court. The Golden Eagles returned the ball with a hard attack, but Riley Moore and Gretsch were there to block it for an 18-9 advantage in the fourth set, good for No. 3 on the Top 5 Plays.  

Against No. 15 Cal Baptist, Marko Kostich saved the ball by the Crimson's bench enough for Brad Gretch to lift it over. The Lancers rallied again, but Gretsch was able to tip the attack as Samuel Murphy dove for the dig, Kostich set up another attempt for Harvard, as Branden Clemens swung and found the back corner of the court.

Riley Moore's kill in the third set against Sacred Heart earned the fifth spot on Harvard's Top Five Plays of the Week video on March 9. After Samuel Murphy received the serve, Marko Kostich set up Moore for the attack but his attempt was blocked by the Pioneer's front line. The ball ricocheted off of Moore's face and hit the ground, giving the Crimson the point.

The Crimson 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 Links:

Harvard Top 5 Plays of the Week – Feb. 17, 2016
Harvard Top 5 Plays of the Week – March 9, 2016
Harvard Top 5 Plays of the Week – March 23, 2016
Harvard Top 5 Plays of the Week – April 5, 2016

Double-Digit Kills
Branden Clemens has posted double-digit kills in 16 of the last 19 matches. For his career, Clemens has tallied double-digit kills in 72 matches.

A Grand Old Time
Eight current and former student-athletes have reached the 1,000-assist plateau in their careers. The newest member is sophomore Marko Kostich who tallied 41 assists against No. 15 Cal Baptist on Match 14, surpassing the milestone. The leader, Rob Lotham '13 accumulated 3,094 in his four years in Crimson.

Chasing Records
Head coach Brian Baise is in his eighth season at Harvard and reached the 100-career wins mark, making him the second Harvard men's volleyball coach to reach this milestone. Multiple student-athletes are also looking to ascend the Crimson record books:

1. Matt Jones '12
3. Brady Weissbourd '09
4. Nick Madden '14
5. Branden Clemens '16
1. Rob Lothman '13
5. Gil Weintruab '09
6. Nick Bendell '17
7. Marko Kostich '18
Service Aces    
1. Matt Jones `12
3. Abbas Hyderi `95-96
4. Evan Beachy `98
5. Branden Clemens `16



1. Chris Gibbons '14
2. DJ White '15
3. Nick Madden '14
4. Branden Clemens '16
5. Matt Jones '12
6. Casey White '17 

Solo Blocks    
1. Ryan Estendorf `96
4. Caleb Zimmick `15
5. Dave Olson `98
6. Branden Clemens `16
1995-96, 98
Block Assists    
1. Ed Panaku '00
5. Kyle Rehkemper '14
6. Matt Jones '12
7. Branden Clemens '16 
Total Blocks    
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.

Related Links:


Branden Clemens – Men's Volleyball
Casey White – Men's Volleyball
Brad Gretsch – Men's Volleyball

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 fourth in digs (483), fifth in aces (71) and kills (833), sixth in solo blocks (30), seventh in block assists (155), and ninth in total blocks (185). 

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 seventh on Harvard's career assists list with 1,109, 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.

Fresh Faces
Harvard added two middle blockers to the 2016 roster; Trevor Dow from Needham, Massachusetts, and Spencer Scott from Oak Lawn, Illinois.

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 100-80 record on the sidelines, including a 75-42 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.

What's Next?
The Crimson will honor its three seniors on Friday, April 8 before its match against Princeton at 7 p.m. Harvard will also face NJIT on Saturday, April 9 at 4 p.m. and honor the classes of 1983, 1985, 1993, and 2001 men's volleyball Ivy League Tournament Championships in between sets. Both will be broadcast on the Ivy League Digital Network.