Men's Volleyball Team Falls to Cal Baptist
The Harvard mens volleyball team’s struggles continued on Monday night, as the Crimson continued their spring break tour of California against the Lancers of California Baptist University.
Harvard struggled from the outset, dropping the first game of the best-of-five match. The Crimson managed to go mostly point-for-point with the Lancers during the first stretch of the set, but eventually watched Cal. Baptist run away on a 9-2 run that brought the score to 19-10.
Harvard was unable to recover and lost the game by a score of 25-16. The teams had similar numbers of kills, but were separated by their levels of efficiency. While Harvard had more chances to attack than Cal. Baptist, the Lancers had greater success blocking and hitting accurately.
“It was a pretty brutal match for us,” said sophomore outside hitter DJ White. “We had a tough time stopping their hitters.”
Harvard’s managed a combined kill percentage of.2, whereas Cal. Baptist’s recorded .476, indicating a far higher level of efficiency for the latter. The Lancers also had two aces while the Crimson had none. On the other hand, Harvard did have six serving errors to Cal. Baptist’s two, despite the Lancers serving far more frequently than the Crimson.
“I think the biggest thing that hurt us was the errors,” junior captain Nick Madden remarked. “[Cal. Baptist] is a pretty good team, but I feel like if we had cut down on those errors we would have had a good chance to win.”
CBU also won the second set, this time by a margin of 25-17. The disparity between the teams was evident in their kill tally, as the Lancers finished with 13 kills and the Crimson finished with 10. Both teams had similar kill percentages, but the Lancers had more hitting opportunities and capitalized enough to win the game.
However, Harvard refused to go away without a fight.
In the third set the Crimson battled from a 21-15 deficit to tie the game at 22-22. Harvard then traded points with Cal. Baptist twice, before eventually going ahead 25-24. Other than two one-point leads at the start of the second set, this was the first time in the match that Harvard had held a lead at a critical point.
“I was excited,” Madden said when asked how he felt at the end of the set, “I thought that’s the level of volleyball we should have been playing at the whole time.”
The Lancers continued to play strong, however, as they reclaimed the lead with two straight points and eventually took the set and match by a score of 28-26, and 3-0.
Overall, Cal. Baptist led the Crimson in most of the major statistics. The Lancers had 39 kills to the Crimson’s 32 and a .318 kill percentage to the Crimson’s .234. In addition, they dominated from the service line, racking up seven aces to the Crimson’s one while Harvard committed 17 service errors to CBU’s 14.
Although the match only lasted three sets, Madden had the second-most kills in the game with 12 and a hitting percentage of .333, well above his season averages of 9 and .169, respectively
However, his performance was not enough against the Lancers, who were led by their star Brazilian outside hitter, Levi Cabral. Cabral ranks second in the country in kills per game, and had a game-high 13 in this contest.
“I had no idea going into the match that [Cabral] would be that big of a force,” White said. “He’s a great international player… and you don’t really see that on the east coast.”
Harvard plays a total of three teams over the course of spring break, all in California. On Friday, the unranked Crimson challenged No. 11 UC Santa Barbara, but came up short by a margin of three games to none. On Tuesday night, Harvard plays Concordia (16-5), who also lost to CBU, albeit in five games.
This was expected to be a tough journey for the Crimson. Six out of the last eight national champions and seven of the last ten finalists have been schools located in California. Out of the current rankings, five of the six top teams in the country are from California, as well as six of Harvard’s fourteen players.
“It’s nice playing back home,” said Madden, a native of San Diego. “We are playing some really good teams and are going to get some good exposure out here with some tough competition… I think [the Californian teams] are used to playing a very high level of volleyball every single night, and [I think we] will bring that fire back out to the east coast.”