Men’s Volleyball Takes on George Mason in EIVA Semifinals

Men’s Volleyball Takes on George Mason in EIVA Semifinals

Match Info
Series Record
Last Meeting

Harvard vs. George Mason
Thursday, April 21, 2016
5 p.m.
Recreation Hall (at Penn State)
Live stats
Harvard trails, 7-10
W, 3-1 (Feb. 26, 2016)

Clemens ranks 15th in the NCAA in kills per set averaging 3.67 (Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's volleyball team travels to State College, Pennsylvania to take on George Mason in an EIVA semifinal match. The contest will be broadcast on GoPSUSports and kicks off at 5 p.m.

Last Time Out
Harvard topped Princeton, 3-0, and clinched fifth-straight berth into the EIVA Tournament with a 3-1 victory over NJIT.

On a day honoring captain Branden Clemens, Alec Schlossman, and Alister Bent for four years of dedication, Harvard took down the Tigers. Clemens tallied a team-high 10 kills and recorded two aces. Four Crimson student-athletes dominated at the net, including Marko Kostich, Brad Gretsch, Riley Moore, and Clemens, as each contributed four blocks apiece.

The following evening Harvard went up against NJIT to stay in the running for a spot in the EIVA Tournament. Clemens recorded a match-high 18 kills, good for his 19th match this season with double-digit kills, while Casey White followed with 14 kills and four blocks of his own. Gretsch and Moore notched a match-high 5 blocks each in the victory. 

Scouting George Mason
George Mason finished second in EIVA regular season play with a 10-4 conference record and a 16-11 mark overall. The Patriots' saw Dom Edgley and Johnny Gomez earn All-EIVA first team honors, while Christian Malias and Radoslav Popov were named to the second team. Jack Wilson leads George Mason averaging 3.55 kills per set, good for seventh in the conference, while Paco Velez and Malias register 0.40 and 0.36 aces per set, good for first and second in the EIVA, respectively. Brian Negron tallies 10.72 assists per set, sitting second in the conference, as Edgley averages 0.94 blocks per set, good for seventh.

Racking Up the Awards
Senior captain Branden Clemens was named to All-EIVA first team, while junior Casey White and sophomore Marko Kostich were named to the second team after their prolific season leading Harvard to a third-place finish in regular season play. Clemens earned his second first team honor, while White and Kostich tallied their first selection.

Three Crimson including Clemens, Kostich, and Brad Gretsch were also named to the EIVA All-Academic Team. Clemens earned his third-straight nod on the team, while Kostich and Gretsch earned their first accolade.

EIVA Championship Introduction

Around the EIVA
Harvard (13-10, 9-5 EIVA) claimed the third seed at the EIVA Championships, and will face George Mason (16-11, 10-4 EIVA) in the semifinals. No. 9 Penn State (19-9, 12-2 EIVA) squares off against No. 15 St. Francis (Pa.) (18-9, 9-5 EIVA) in the opposite semifinal matchup. The winners of the two matches will play for a berth in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, April 23.

EIVA Leaders
The Crimson tops the league in hitting percentage (.302) and aces per set (1.34). Harvard ranks second in blocks per set (2.23), while also sitting third in opponent hitting percentage (.244). The Crimson also ranks fourth in kills per set (11.87), assists per set (11.14), and digs per set (8.70).

Branden Clemens holds a .321 hitting percentage, good for second, while also ranking fourth with 3.67 kills per set. Clemens also falls eighth among the conference in aces per set (0.31) and ninth in digs per set (1.86). Brad Gretsch sits seventh in aces averaging 0.32 per set and eighth in hitting percentage with a .271 clip. Marko Kostich averages 9.83 assists per set for a fourth-place ranking, while Casey White ranks fifth in hitting percentage with a .296 clip and seventh in digs per set averaging 2.13 per set. Riley Moore is fourth, while Trevor Dow is eighth 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. 

Harvard reached No. 1 on its last home regular season match of the year as it was ahead 14-12 in the third set against Princeton and it was the Tigers' serve. The Crimson returned it but was denied as Harvard set up for another attack. Princeton set up an attack as Samuel Murphy received it making it go wild as Branden Clemens chased it down in the back court and Marko Kostich set the ball over. Princeton set up for the attack, but was soon shut down as Casey White came up big for his second solo block of the night.  


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

Double-Digit Kills
Branden Clemens has posted double-digit kills in 19 of the last 23 matches. For his career, Clemens has tallied double-digit kills in 75 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
2. DJ White '15
3. Brady Weissbourd '09
4. 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. Branden Clemens '16
4. Nick Madden '14
5. 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 third in digs (502), fourth in kills (883), fifth in aces (77), sixth in solo blocks (30), seventh in block assists (165), and ninth in total blocks (195). 

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 1,239, 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.

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 102-82 record on the sidelines, including a 77-44 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?
With a victory over George Mason, Harvard will face the winner of No. 1 Penn State and No. 4 St. Francis (Pa.) in the EIVA Championship match on Saturday, April 23 at 7 p.m.