Although the Harvard men’s volleyball team surged ahead in the first game against Endicott last night in Beverly, Mass., the Crimson yielded to the Gulls 3-1 (30-24, 22-30, 32-30, 30-24), mirroring last week’s 3-1 loss against Springfield, in which Harvard swept the Pride in the game-opener and then gave up the next three contests. The non-conference match against Endicott (5-6, 2-1 NECVA) marked the second loss for the Crimson (3-2, 2-1 EIVA) this season.
“We didn’t want to mimic the game against Springfield but we kind of did, losing in four,” senior outside hitter Jordan Weitzen said. “It was kind of a parallel game in the sense that we came out really fired up and then we lost momentum. We just didn’t play together.”
Harvard traded points with the Gulls in the beginning of the first game, but Weitzen’s solid serving gave Harvard the lead, 8-6. Although Endicott tied it up at 12 on a solo block, the Crimson quickly recovered its two-point advantage and did not look back, pulling away for the win, 30-24.
The second contest stayed close at the start, as neither Harvard nor the Gulls could establish a lead of more than two points. But the Crimson lost its hold on Endicott and failed to regain control in the remainder of the match. Slamming down a kill after a Harvard timeout, the Gulls secured their biggest lead of the night, 23-20, and kept up the momentum to nail down a 30-22 victory over the Crimson.
“I think we considered ourselves better than we were, and by doing that, we took the other team for granted,” sophomore Erik Kuld said. “You can’t do that because they’ll surprise you when you don’t play your best. We were overconfident and didn’t give the other team enough respect, and that’s what losers do.”
Harvard seemed to get back in the groove in the third contest, as the Crimson picked up a 3-0 lead with sophomore Gil Weintraub serving. Endicott rallied to trim Harvard’s advantage to one point, 5-4. Junior captain Brady Weissbourd later responded with a kill to boost the Crimson’s lead to 8-5, and Harvard continued on to complete a 7-4 run, which kept Harvard ahead of the Gulls, 15-9. But Endicott quickly took control of the game, as the team came back from behind to seize the lead, 29-28, and the win, 32-30.
In the fourth frame, the Gulls pulled ahead 9-8, and the Crimson never recovered. Extending the lead to seven points in the middle of the contest, Endicott left Harvard behind as they pushed toward the win, sealing its victory at 30-24.
“We just didn’t find the will to win at any point during the game,” Kuld said. “I guess everyone didn’t play up to his potential. We’re a good team that just needs to bring it to the floor every time they play. Every team who doesn’t play to their potential will lose.”
Although the Crimson started off the season with a three-game winning streak, putting it in a prime position for a spot in the EIVA playoffs, Harvard has now notched almost as many losses as wins.
“I think it’s an attitude issue,” Weitzen said. “Ever since we beat Rutgers, which was a great, we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re so good and we don’t need to play hard. We can make mistakes, we can play lackadaisically, relaxed.’ But the truth is, after we played Rutgers, people are gunning for us. Great teams play with intensity all the way through, and we really slacked on that when we needed to win.”
The Crimson now finds itself in a tight position as it battles for a playoff bid. Harvard’s next match is at the Golden Dome Classic in New Jersey this weekend, where it will face Rutgers-Newark for the second time this season.
“If we play like we did [last night] and [last] Tuesday, there’s going to be no contest,” Weitzen said. “We really just need to focus on these two losses and realize what happened, and I think that in itself will definitely change. It needs to change. If we want to make the playoffs, this game’s pretty much a must-win.”
—Staff writer Courtney D. Skinner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.