In two five-game matches this weekend, the Harvard men’s volleyball team extended its winning streak to five games, edging out both George Mason and Princeton in hard-fought road wins.
“As we play more, we keep gaining confidence,” Crimson coach Brian Baise said. “We’re figuring out ways to win even when we’re not playing at our best, and that counts for a lot.”
HARVARD 3, PRINCETON 2
The Tigers (6-5, 5-3 EIVA) put Harvard (11-2, 5-2) in a hole early on Saturday afternoon, taking the first two sets, 25-22 and 25-23, at Dillon Gym. With a lot of back-and-forth rallies, Princeton was able to pull ahead due to service aces and Crimson attacking errors.
“Princeton was playing very well in the first couple of games,” sophomore libero Chris Gibbons said. “We weren’t really rising up to the challenge [in] those first couple of games. Our offense wasn’t really on fire, and we weren’t playing good defense.”
That all changed in the third set when Harvard was able to pull out a key 25-19 win.
Notching 18 digs throughout the five games, Gibbons led a Crimson defense that brought the team back into the contest.
Baise believed the defense had substantially improved since the teams’ last meeting.
“Princeton was well up over .300 hitting the first time we played them, and now they’re under .200,” Baise said.
While the defense strengthened, the Harvard offense picked up steam as well. Trading points with the Tigers throughout the fourth game, the Crimson went on a six-point run sparked by a kill from sophomore middle blocker Will Chambers and a service ace from senior outside hitter Matt Jones. The Crimson eventually took the fourth frame, 25-21.
Riding this momentum, the Crimson jumped out to an early 8-2 lead in the fifth set. Even after two timeouts, Princeton could not rally. Two kills by Jones sparked another 5-0 Harvard run.
Jones and sophomore opposite hitter Nick Madden led the Crimson offense against Princeton, knocking down 15 and 16 kills, respectively. Madden sealed the set with a kill, giving Harvard the final victory, 15-7.
“We definitely had a lot of confidence going into game five, and it showed,” Jones said.
HARVARD 3, GEORGE MASON 2
The Crimson came out strong against the Patriots (6-11, 2-4), winning the first frame, 25-18, at George Mason’s Recreation Athletic Complex in Fairfax, Va., on Friday night.