Streaking M. Volleyball Creams Eastern Mennonite
The men's volleyball team had much to celebrate this weekend.
On Friday, Harvard (4-1, 2-0 EIVA) won its second straight league match by decimating the Eastern Mennonite Royals (3-3, 1-1 EIVA) in a three-game rout (15-5, 15-10, 15-8) that lasted a little over an hour.
The Crimson got off to a quick start in the first game by scoring the first four points behind the serving of junior outside hitter Brian Stevenson.
Eastern Mennonite (EMU) looked shaky early on. Miscommunication and errant passes led to another Crimson run that resulted in a 7-1 score only five minutes into the match.
EMU Coach Steve Gaston, visibly shaken by his team's collapse, called a timeout to rally his troops, but the Harvard onslaught proved too relentless.
Co-captain Ed Pankau pushed the lead to 9-1 on a devastating kill and Harvard held on for an easy 15-5 win behind the defense of junior co-captain Justin Micomonaco and sophomore middle blocker Justin Denham.
However, the Crimson's burgeoning momentum hit a snag in the second game, and sloppy play set in on both sides.
As a contrast to the first five minutes of the first game when Harvard led by a score of 7-1, the first five minutes of the second game only witnessed one point by Harvard.
An important reason for Harvard's lackluster play in the second game was the exhaustion associated with playing three matches in five days.
"I felt physically, but more importantly, mentally fatigued from a really intensive week of three games and practice on the two off-days," freshman setter Mike Bookman said.
In addition to the Crimson's mental and physical weariness, Harvard Coach Tom Wilson used the second game to experiment with some new lineups.
For instance, Wilson gave some playing time to freshman Alex Kowell. Wilson played Kowell at middle blocker and moved Pankau to opposite, creating some initial confusion.
"Ed did a nice job playing a new position so Alex could get some experience in the middle," senior outside hitter Joe Herger said.
Kowell appreciated the playing time and noticed some definite room for improvement.
"Although I hit the dooker, I felt like I made a good defensive contribution and look forward to working on my game," Kowell said.
Ultimately, Harvard was able to overcome its fatigue and initial disarray and put away EMU by the score of 15-10 in the second game.
"While we had a couple of miscues, we adjusted quickly and finished the second game with some big swings," Wilson said.
In the third game of the match, the Crimson showed flashes of brilliance.
Herger and Stevenson led the way offensively for the Crimson in the third game with eight and seven kills, respectively.
Herger, who was utterly dominant throughout the match, repeatedly punished the Royals with fantastic set plays run by Bookman.
"Joe played extremely well. Having a .650 hitting percentage from the outside is almost unheard of," Pankau said, "Once again he proved why he's one of the best players in the East."
EMU lost the third game 15-8 and the match 3-0.
In the winning effort, Harvard complemented its suffocating offensive with an equally stifling defense. The team ended the night with 37 digs and seven team blocks.
Also, the Crimson was able to improve its serving in Friday night's contest. Harvard had a .921 serving percentage, its highest of the season.
Harvard will now take its perfect league record on the road for three straight EIVA matches. With the momentum of the last two victories, the Crimson can feel good about its chances and hopefully will have three more reasons to celebrate next weekend.