Split Darkens Playoff Hopes of Men's Volleyball

The Harvard men's volleyball team split its weekend series, falling to Vassar, 3-1 (21-30, 21-30, 30-12, 28-30), on Saturday and defeating Southampton 3-1 (24-30, 30-27, 30-28, 30-24) yesterday at the Malkin Athletic Center.

The Crimson (8-6, 4-5 Hay) needed to win the rest of its conference games to have a legitamate chance of entering the EIVA tournament, but the loss to Vassar (10-8, 4-5) essentially ended any hopes of reaching the post-season.

NYU, the No. 1 ranked team in Division III volleyball, leads the Hay Division with a 7-1 record, and St. Francis is second with a 6-1 record. The top two teams from the Hay Division make the tournament.

"We were really disappointed with the Vassar loss," said sophomore middle blocker Alex Kowell. "We wanted to prove ourselves against Southampton."

Harvard 3, Southampton 1

The Crimson completed its season sweep of the Warriors (8-7, 3-4) behind balanced offense and solid defense, which led to a 3-1 win yesterday afternoon.

Harvard lost the first game, but quickly established its block and stymied the Southampton offense for the final three games with freshman middle blocker Juan Carlos Cardet leading the way.

"We passed better and played much better defense," said Harvard Coach Tom Wilson. "We had a lot of blocks and soft blocks that controlled them fairly well."

In the second game, the Crimson created a multitude of Warrior errors and took a 25-19 lead. Although the Warriors tried to fight back, two kills by Kowell finished off the game for the Crimson, 30-27.

The third game was closely contested, but eventually the offensive dominance of junior co-captain Justin Denham and senior outside hitter Brian Stevenson thwarted Southampton's attempt to gain the lead.

Both teams were tied at 20-20, but Stevenson had two kills and Denham had three to seal the game, 30-28 and give Harvard a 2-1 lead in the match.

The third game found the Crimson trailing 10-6, but Cardet and Kowell catalyzed a 24-14 Harvard run that closed out the game, 30-24, and the match, 3-1. Cardet had four kills in the game and Kowell had three with three blocks.

Vassar 3, Harvard 1

The Brewers finished a season sweep of the Crimson with a 3-1 win on Saturday afternoon. Vassar had already defeated Harvard 3-1 a month ago in New York.

Harvard found itself trailing 2-0 due to continued serving and hitting errors, and eventually those mistakes did it in.

"We missed tons and tons of serves," Wilson said. "We had hitting errors, passing errors, and we can't play like that against the good teams."

The Crimson's errors led to Vassar winning the first two games 30-21 and 30-21. Outside hitter Paul Kessenich led the Brewers with 10 kills during these first two games.

In the third game, an inspired Harvard squad blasted Vassar in less than 15 minutes, crushing the Brewers 30-12. Denham, Cardet, and Stevenson had multiple kills during the run.

The Crimson continued its comeback in the fourth game, attempting to fight back from a 2-0 deficit for the second consecutive week.

Last week, Harvard fought off a 2-0 deficit against East Stroudsburg to win the match, 3-2.

This week, the Crimson was unable to duplicate its feat, and came as close as 28-28. Harvard then hit the ball twice into the net to drop the game, 30-28, and the match, 3-1.

"It's frustrating," Cardet said. "We should have won this match but our mistakes killed us."

The Crimson now leaves for a seven game road trip that includes a trip California and ends with the Ivy Championships at Yale on Apr. 1.