A Harvard men’s volleyball team in search of consistency split two divisional contests at home this weekend.
The Crimson (3-5, 2-3 Hay) finished the weekend with a 3-1 loss to the NYU Violets (7-2, 6-0), followed by a dominating 3-0 win over East Stroudsberg (4-8, 0-5 Hay) at the Malkin Athletic Center. The win broke Harvard’s five-game losing streak.
The streak had been marked by inconsistency, and the key difference between Saturday and yesterday’s games epitomized that.
“Consistency is the linchpin of volleyball, and we haven’t been able to sustain that level of play throughout a match yet,” junior co-captain Mike Bookman said.
M. Volleyball 3, East Stroudsberg 0
After a mistake-filled loss to NYU on Saturday, yesterday saw the end of a two-week old winless streak as the Crimson swept the Warriors, 3-0 (30-20, 30-23, 30-24).
Harvard’s play was marked by a diversified offense. Bookman—who finished with 43 assists—effectively involved five Crimson hitters in the offense. Co-captain Justin Denham led the attack with 19 kills.
The defense was equally aggressive, as Kowell, Denham, Marouf, Ramos and Mosier registered impressive blocks.
Despite the highly noticeable kill and block action, the smooth passing that had been missing in Saturday’s loss had markedly improved.
“We passed better than usual, which contributed to us having a better hitting percentage than usual, which then created more fire and emotion on the court,” Denham said.
The Crimson took a 20-12 lead in the first game and never looked back. In the third game, freshman Doug Mulliken served Harvard’s way to a six-point lead that the Warriors never recovered from.
NYU 3, M. Volleyball 1
Saturday’s competition opened with a uncontested kill by NYU’s Evan Finch. The following play went in favor of NYU as the Crimson was called for a net violation. So began a match plagued by Harvard mistakes—including 14 hitting errors and 15 service errors.
But the match was not devoid of promising play. After dropping the first game 30-23, the Crimson fought back. Freshman outside hitter Abe Marouf helped spark the team by putting down 7 of his 17 kills in the second game. Timely kills by captain Justin Denham also helped lift Harvard to a 30-28 victory.
“The one game we took from them was a great step forward,” Marouf said.
But that step would be the high point of the match for the Crimson, as NYU answered with four unanswered points to begin the third game. With an array of Harvard service, hitting and net errors, the Violets finished the game on top, 22-30.
Harvard was not ready to give in. Senior middle blocker Alex Kowell began the fourth game with a powerful kill as a new race to 30 began. The Crimson matched NYU point-for-point until the game was tied at 21-21.
NYU created some breathing room on the next four Finch serves, forcing Harvard to take a timeout at 25-21. But Wilson’s attempt to bring his team together could not prevent NYU’s ultimate 30-24 triumph.
Junior co-captain Mike Bookman said that he diid not see taking one game from the division-leading Violets as an accomplishment.
“We are capable of beating any team in this division if we put togehter our best effort,” said Bookman, who turned in a solid performance with 43 assists and 6 digs. “We haven’t really done that yet.”
Wilson described the team’s recent play as “inconsistent,” specifically citing the team’s passing. “[This is] by far the worst we’ve passed this season,” Wilson said.
The Crimson will look to maintain the momentum from the East Stroudsberg win when it hosts Sacred Heart on Wednesday. The scheduled start time is 7 p.m.