Ohio State battled back to 15-15 but was never able to take the lead away from the Crimson. A kill by Madden followed by a block by junior Caleb Zimmick off OSU kill leader Driss Guessous sealed the victory for Harvard.
“The way we ended it was good,” Madden said. “We had Rehkemper [come up with] a huge block on the outside and Caleb had a huge block on [Guessous], who we had been unable to stop the entire game. Two big blocks on two key players down the stretch really got us the W.”
Despite the Crimson’s success against a ranked opponent, Baise believes that there is still room for improvement as the squad heads into a key stretch of the season.
“One of our weak spots is playing a complete defensive game,” Baise said. “To beat teams in the EIVA playoffs, we have to figure out a way to slow them down because when [those teams] are hitting a high percentage it puts pressure on our offense.”
BALL STATE 3, HARVARD 2
The Crimson’s weekend in Ohio began with a loss to the ranked Cardinals, as Harvard dropped a tight 3-2 match to a squad that has won eight straight contests.
Despite leading two sets to one after three stanzas, the Crimson was unable to maintain its lead, ultimately losing, 25-18, 24-26, 25-20, 19-25, and 14-16.
DJ White spearheaded the Harvard offense, as the junior posted his first double-double of the season with a career-high 26 kills and 10 digs.
The Crimson seized a commanding lead in the first set thanks to an early 4-0 run, after which the team would never relinquish the lead.
While Harvard would also take an early advantage in the second set, Ball State came back and took the set after an attack error by the Crimson.
Harvard continued the trend by once again taking an early lead in the third set with a 7-2 run to seize a 9-4 lead. Like the first game, the Crimson preserved this lead as the Cardinals failed to recover from the early hole.
The fourth set saw the Cardinals contain Harvard’s early onslaught and take a commanding 10-6 lead early on to pace the set. The Crimson could never recover as Ball State forced a final stanza.
The decisive set saw Harvard fall behind early after a 4-0 run by Ball State put the Cardinals up, 4-1. While the Crimson came back multiple times to tie the set, the team was unable to ever take the lead, eventually falling, 16-14, after an attack error.
Despite the loss, there were various bright spots for the team as several members posted career-high numbers. Along with the performance of DJ White, Madden contributed 17 kills and 16 digs to claim his seventh career double-double and third on the season.
Zimmick posted a career-best 16 kills while freshman Nick Bendell added a career-high 65 assists on the night.