Men's Volleyball Suffers Weekend Setback
It was a tough weekend for the No. 14 Harvard’s men’s volleyball team, which saw its six-game winning streak end on Friday. The Crimson only won one set of seven in its road trip against George Mason and Princeton.
Harvard recently completed arguably the best few weeks of play in program history. Most notably, for the first time in program history, Harvard beat No. 9 Penn State in a 3-0 sweep on Feb. 15. But the Crimson lacked the same momentum that brought it into the national rankings.
“I think this weekend was a wake-up call for us,” junior co-captain Nick Madden said. “It’s disappointing to lose two games. We didn’t feel like we played our best volleyball…. We played two of the strongest teams in the league away at their place, with the crowd and home-court advantage.”
PRINCETON 3, HARVARD 1
It was a packed house in Princeton’s Dillon Gym as Harvard and its rival went head-to-head in a decisive league game. The Tigers (7-3, 5-2 EIVA) were able to clinch at least the second place spot in the EIVA with their victory over the Crimson (9-4, 5-3), which now sits in third place in the conference.
Harvard took the third frame, 25-14, on Saturday, but it wasn’t enough, as Princeton was the first to get to three, taking the fourth set by the same score.
“Today we rallied in the third game and really had a lot of energy and some good moments,” Madden said. “We hit well on offense, [and] our passing was good. We put the pressure on them and made them make mistakes.”
Madden tied with sophomore outside hitter DJ White for most kills in the game for Harvard at nine. Right behind him with the second most kills was freshman starter Brendan Clemens, who had six kills Saturday.
The Tigers’ strength on the defensive end showed in their 22 blocks, led by senior Michael Dye with seven and junior Pat Schwagler who had five.
“We were having a tough time diversifying our offense and finding our rhythm from every position on the court,” co-captain Rob Lothman said.
The Crimson collected a total of 30 digs on Saturday, mostly thanks to junior libero Chris Gibbons, who individually added 12.
Despite having four more digs than the Tigers, Madden felt his team didn’t play its best.
“I felt like our defense, blocking, and serve receive could have been a little bit stronger,” Madden said.
It was a close match in the second and third sets. Harvard’s greatest lead came when it was up 14-10 in the second before Princeton went on a five-point run and then held on tight for a close 25-22 victory. The Tigers sat most of their starters in the third to allow the Crimson to win its only game of the match. After taking a quick breather, Princeton proved resilient in the fourth, establishing a substantial lead after a 6-6 start and securing the match.
GEORGE MASON 3, HARVARD 0