Harvard Cruises to Sweep Over Sacred Heart

Coming into the match, Sacred Heart had yet to win a contest this season. And on its longest win streak of 2006, the Harvard men’s volleyball team made sure it stayed that way, defeating the Pioneers 3-0 (30-24, 30-24, 30-28) last night at the Pitt Center in Fairfield, Conn.

Riding the momentum from an upset of then-undefeated East Stroudsburg on Saturday, the Crimson had little trouble getting past a struggling Sacred Heart squad. Harvard posted 50 kills on .307 hitting, outslugging the Pioneers to pick up its fifth straight victory.

“We capitalized on their errors,” junior setter Dave Fitz said. “We played our game, made the swings when we needed to, and didn’t give them any cheap points.”

The Crimson’s middle hitters had another solid night, with Seamus McKiernan, Brady Weissbourd, and Andy Nelson combining for 23 kills on .475 hitting. Fitz contributed as well, posting five kills on .667 hitting to go along with his 39 assists.

And on the outside, junior Laurence Favrot played one of the best matches of his career, tallying 11 kills on .381 hitting.

“Laurence was an All-County outside hitter in high school, but we had to move him to libero because of older players at his position,” McKiernan said. “Now, he’s come into his own. It’s not a surprise to us at all, but it’s confusing some other teams in the league.”

Both teams took some time to warm up. In the first frame, defense had the upper hand, as both teams were limited to sub-.200 hitting. Harvard held Sacred Heart to nine kills and forced eight errors, allowing it to build a significant lead. But the Crimson had its troubles on offense, too, registering 10 errors in the game one win.

“We were a little complacent at first,” Fitz said. “When you know you’re the better team, you don’t go into games with a lot of energy.”

After winning the opening frame, however, Harvard’s attack gained its rhythm.

Digging and passing well, the Crimson racked up 18 kills against only three errors, building another comfortable cushion.

The Pioneers didn’t give up, posting a .419 hitting percentage of its own. But the Harvard attack proved too potent, and the Crimson coasted to another 30-24 victory.

“We came out slow, but we were able to turn it on,” McKiernan said. “That’s the sign of a mature team.”

Game three gave Harvard coach Chris Ridolfi yet another opportunity to rotate his less experienced players in, with freshman Jeff Nathan and sophomore Jamie Crooks seeing time.

And despite having different players in the lineup, Harvard’s offense stayed on track, posting 16 kills on .345 hitting to close out the match, 30-28.

“Our passing was really good tonight, and we limited our service errors,” Fitz said.

The Crimson will return home to face non-league opponent Wentworth on Friday night before hosting East Stroudsburg again on Saturday afternoon—just one week removed from the teams’ last matchup.

And with their win streak at five and their confidence high, Harvard’s players have regained the swagger that’s been missing since 2005.

“East Stroudsburg has surely been preparing all week to play us,” McKiernan said. “They think our win last weekend was a fluke, but we are going to crush them on Saturday.”

—Staff writer Karan Lodha can be reached at klodha@fas.harvard.edu.

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