Spikers Nab First Ivy Championship, Down Princeton in Final, 15-9, 15-8
The Harvard men's volleyball team got a persistent monkey off its back Saturday night at the IAB, overwhelming defending champion Princeton, 15-9, 15-8, to capture its first-ever Ivy title.
"This was the first time ever that we all put it together," said sophomore middle hitter Mohan Nadkarni. The Crimson came up with one of its more inspired efforts to snap a two-year draught in Ivy play against the Tigers.
The two squads established the inside game early as spikes by sophomore Jon Ross and Princeton's Peter Norman accounted for a 3-3 deadlock. But three wild Tiger spikes and a moving violation enabled Harvard to put together a 6-0 run and a 9-3 lead. Ross's service winner and the intimidating blocking by the duo of Nadkarni and senior Mark Chang stretched the Crimson advantage to 12-5 before Norman brought the Tigers back to within four, 12-8.
Serving It Up
The Martin brothers accounted for the spikers next two points. Sophomore Tarry served up an ace while senior Captain Brad drilled to the floor an errant Princeton return. When Chang's spike bounced off Tiger Mark Nixon's head, Harvard had won the first game, 15-9.
The second stanza saw the spikes forging ahead, 5-1, thanks to another Ross ace and pinpoint setting from the Martin tandem Princeton out the deficit to one, 5-4, through Norman and Julian Herencia's short spikes.
The squads then traded two more streaks. A 3-0 spurt increased the Crimson advantage to 8-4 before Harvard lost four points as the referee ruled against a Brad Martin act and a Chang save. With the score tied at eight, the Crimson steamrolled over the Tigers, winning the next seven points to finish off the tournament. Chang connected on four passes and tourney MVP junior David Twite blocked the final shot to set up the 15-8 score.
To reach the finals the spikers had downed Yale and Cornell in straight games and split its games with Brown to clinch first place in their pool and meet Penn in the semis. The Crimson had too many weapons for Penn to contain, taking a two-game triumph.
Even though Harvard dominated the contest, the Quakers started stronger, opening up a 3-0 lead in the first game. Terry Martin then triggered a seven-point rally as the Crimson pulled in front to stay, 9-4. A Penn dink and momentary miscommunication between Nadkarni and the elder Martin aided a three-point Quaker comeback. But superb team defense paved the way to a 15-7 Crimson victory. Ross blocked three shots and Nadkarni fixed two service winners to set the final score. In the second and deciding game Twite led a 12-2 surge as Harvard fought back from a 7-3 deficit to win the game, 15-9.
THE NOTEBOOK: Princeton played without ace Bryan Wilson, who did not make the trip due to an injury... In addition to garnering the MVP honors, Twite joined All-Ivy First Team... Chang was selected to the All-Ivy Second Team... The famous cowbell used in hockey games made a surprise appearance in the finals, much to the 40-person crowd's satisfaction... The Tigers received a heavy dose of "sieve" chants after each successful Crimson spike... The spikers ended the season with a 37-2 overall mark, 12-1 in post-season competition.