Last season, it took the Harvard men’s volleyball team ten games to notch its first win of the year.
This season, it took one.
In its season opener last night at the Malkin Athletic Center, the Crimson (1-0) downed Newbury (2-5) in four sets, winning 3-1.
“It feels great, to be honest,” sophomore setter Rob Lothman said. “Last season it got to be pretty frustrating. So when you come out with a win, it sets a great tone for the season.”
Harvard relied heavily on its freshman class, starting four rookies in the contest. Any sign of first game jitters were hard to notice, as the four newcomers combined for 23 of the Crimson’s 42 kills and 12 of 22 digs.
Freshmen Kyle Rehkemper and Nick Madden held down the middle position, combining for three solo blocks and six block assists.
“I have to especially give a little shout out to our middles,” Lothman said. “They really played hard and they really owned the middle of the court today. I hope that’s something we keep seeing in the future.”
Rehkemper and Madden also got it done on offense, notching eight and seven kills, respectively.
“They bring a lot of size, and they both have great arms,” Crimson coach Brian Baise said. “I’m a big believer in that part of the offense. If we have a good middle attack, it helps everyone else out as well.”
But despite the strong performance of its newcomers, Harvard called on an old standby in the contest’s crucial points—junior co-captain Matt Jones.
Jones—who finished with a game high 15 kills—played an important role in sealing the victory for the Crimson.
With Harvard up 2-1 and leading 21-18 in the fourth set, Jones came up with a series of big plays to send the Nighthawks packing.
Jones ignited the run by taking a set from Lothman and finishing with a kill to make it 22-18. Jones notched another point on the following possession, stuffing a Newbury attacker.
With the Crimson two points away from victory, Nighthawks coach Chris Taylor signaled for a timeout, but it wouldn’t slow Jones.
On the next point, the outside hitter finished another set from Lothman for a kill, bringing Harvard within one. Newbury answered with a kill of its own to make it 24-20, but Jones sealed the win on the next point with his third straight kill. This time, Jones took a pass from Lothman on the outside and finished with a thunderous crosscourt spike.