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Spikers Fall in Three Despite Best Showing

By Tom Kane

You know how they say mirrors lie. Well scoreboards do too.

The scoreboard at the MAC showed the Harvard men's volleyball team to be less fair than league rival Springfield. The Crimson were swept 15-7, 15-12, 15-8.

"I think we played our best game yet," junior Captain Alec Berg said. "The scoreboard doesn't really reflect it."

Harvard (2-5 overall, 1-2) opened the match by taking the first two points on the service of freshman Albert Kim. Springfield (8-3, 4-0) then streaked to a 7-2 lead. The rallies were long, with the ball usually dropping on the Crimson's floor.

Harvard Coach Ishan Gurdal used some key substitutions to keep his team alert. With his team down by five, Gurdal inserted junior outside hitter Marty "The Pickle" Valasek for freshman Brian Jones. The move worked, allowing the Crimson to cut the lead to 10-7.

The combination of Springfield's Mark Straubel's booming spikes and Harvard's failing to connect on blocks up front led to Springfield's 15-7 demolition.

"Harvard is a good ball control team," Springfield coach Peter Dearing said. "We are stingy on defense. It's one of our strengths."

Game two was the battle.

Senior Mike Gaw established Harvard as a force to be reckoned with, serving to a 4-1 lead. The game started slowly with the teams trading points.

Outside hitter Vince Marin, supported by the outstanding play of Brian Ehrlich and Valasek, led the Crimson to a 9-6 lead. Harvard had no time to relax. Within minutes, Springfield had jumped out to a 10-9 lead.

A strategic timeout by Gurdal proved to be futile. Springfield rolled to a 13-9 cushion. The Crimson showed its character in trying to hold off the defeat. Harvard crawled back to trail 13-12, winning points on the serves of freshman Pat Harlan, Gaw and Valasek.

"We were with them nearly point for point, then they would take us for a three or four point run," Valasek said. "The result doesn't matter because we built confidence tonight."

Nothing Left

After losing a tough one in game two, game three was an afterthought. Both teams executed well, moving to a 5-5 tie. Springfield then took five of the next six points. Harvard was never able to recover.

The serving of Springfield's Javier Bernal proved nearly deadly as he stretched his team's lead to 14-7. Senior outside hitter Bennett Johnson extended the match a little longer with a strong play at net that won the serve for Harvard.

"We played our game," Bernal said. "Harvard played well, but we had it together."

"Springfield did everything a little better," Berg said. "But there was a spark tonight that hasn't been there before."

THE NOTEBOOK: The Crimson travel to Rhode Island to face league rival Roger Williams on Thursday. Saturday, the team returns to Roger Williams for a league-wide tournament where it will play four matches.

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