Off to its best start since 2004, the Harvard men’s volleyball team picked up another win last night at the Malkin Athletic Center.
Facing off against Rivier (10-4), the Crimson (4-1) snapped its two-game losing streak against the Raiders, winning the match in four games. Led by a strong offensive performance, Harvard captured the first two sets before closing out the match in the fourth.
“It’s good to get a win—4-1 sounds good,” junior co-captain Dan Schreff said. “I give it to the guys for closing out the game.”
The Crimson started slow in game one. After a series of miscues, the squad found itself at its largest deficit, down 4-1, forcing coach Brian Baise, to call a timeout.
The Raiders appeared dominant early on, but in the huddle, Harvard regained its composure and returned to the court strong. The Crimson consistently lagged by two points throughout the opening set, until it fought back to tie the Raiders at 16. On the next play, Harvard took its first lead, going up 17-16. Raider coach Craid Kolek called a timeout in an attempt to stop the Crimson momentum, but sophomore Rob Lothman’s float serve propelled Harvard to a 20-17 lead.
The Raiders responded with a kill and a missed serve by junior co-captain Matt Jones gave Rivier an opportunity. But the Crimson hitters closed the set with two kills, besting the Raiders, 25-22.
The energy from the previous set carried over; Harvard started set two with a kill by Jones and an ace by Lothman. While the teams exchanged points early on—tying the score at eight—the Crimson seemed to control the pace of the game, pulling ahead to win, 25-18.
For game three, Harvard switched setters, substituting Lothman for fellow sophomore setter Derek Jansma. The two teams competed closely, exchanging the lead on three occasions and tying 13 times throughout the set.
When tied at 19, the Crimson seemed poised to pull ahead following a perfect pass by Schreff, set by Jansma, and kill by Jones. But defensive coverage and communication errors lead to a 25-23 loss.
But third-game losses are commonplace for Harvard.
“A number of times we’ve gone up two games, then the negative is we lose that third game,” said Baise, whose squad has picked up each of its four victories in four sets. “But the positive side is we are able to turn it around in the fourth. And there were some pressure points there, and we came up big in those pressure points.”
The Crimson was true to trend last night and was able to come back strong for a tight fourth set. A young team featuring four freshmen in the starting lineup, Harvard gained momentum early when rookie Chris Gibbons crushed an accidental overpass by Rivier.
The two teams stayed within three points throughout the game, but the Raiders never regained the lead after the Crimson overtook Rivier at 6-6. Lothman returned as a vital player during the set. The setter landed a well-placed fake out, bringing Harvard ahead, 21-20.
“Rob knows how to manage a game,” Schreff said. “He lulls them into a false sense of security then puts it away.”
Lothman proceeded to provide the Crimson with consistent serving through crucial points. After Harvard lost the ball, Rivier tried to capitalize on the opportunity with Alex Xenidis at the service line. Xenidis delivered a topspin jump serve, but the Crimson picked up the serve and Jones terminated the play with a clutch kill. Moments later, Gibbons ended the match decisively with a kill down the line at 25-23.