On Friday night the Harvard men’s volleyball team (7-5, 0-3 EIVA Hay) set out to snap its three-game losing streak and get the weekend off to a good start against Juniata (12-9, 5-0) at the Malkin Athletic Center.
The two teams played four close games, with the Crimson winning the first but coming up just short in the next three.
“I think we played with a lot of passion tonight,” said freshman outside hitter Chris Gibbons. “But what we’ve been struggling on in the past is that we’re just not closing the games, and so we just make a few more mistakes than the other team—we can’t make mistakes and still win matches.”
The first game started slowly, with four back-to-back missed serves, two from each team. Gibbons scored the first earned point for the Crimson with a powerful hit off the Juniata block.
The Eagles responded with a side-out, only to waste their possession with a serve into the net.
The squads reached a tie at six, but a block by freshman Nick Madden and a serving rally by fellow rookie Kyle Rehkemper propelled Harvard to a 10-7 lead.
After junior co-captain Matt Jones took advantage of an accidental overpass by Juniata, the Eagles called time-out at 13-8 to shift the momentum.
Harvard miscues and hustle by Juniata cut the margin to two points, but the Crimson utilized its offense—attacking at .500 as a team—to arrive at a 25-22 victory in game one.
“The first game was our best offensive game of the season,” Harvard coach Brian Baise said. “But for whatever reason, we couldn’t sustain it.”
The Eagles started the second game with the serve but didn’t keep it for long, after a huge hit by outside hitter Jones.
Then a pair of missed serves by Juniata gave Harvard the opportunity to extend its lead to 7-3.
These missed serves by both teams reflected a common trend in the match as a whole: the Crimson and the Eagles missed 17 and 20 serves, respectively.
The teams fought back and forth for points, tying things up at 18.
But Juniata took its first lead of the game on an error by Harvard and extended its advantage with a block.
With the score set at 20-18, the Crimson called a time-out to quell the Eagles’ energy. Following the respite, Harvard managed great defense—including big pickups off the block—but Juniata maintained the lead for the remainder of the game, finishing at 25-23.