For just the second time since 2003, the Harvard men’s volleyball team has gotten off to a 2-0 start, capturing its second win in as many matches Friday night at the Malkin Athletic Center.
Aided once again by its talented freshman class, the Crimson (2-0) grabbed a 3-1 victory over Endicott (3-3), winning 25-21, 25-21, 21-25, and 25-19.
“We played with confidence,” junior co-captain Matt Jones said. “I’m excited about the way the season is shaping up.”
After notching a team-high 15 kills in Harvard’s season opener against Newbury, Jones turned in another strong performance, finishing with a game-high 20 kills. The outside hitter also chipped in with six digs—second to fellow junior captain Dan Schreff’s seven—and five block assists.
“I think Matt’s been doing a great job of leading our team to victories,” said freshman outside hitter Chris Gibbons. “He’s playing a big role on offense and in passing.”
Gibbons also produced offensively for the Crimson, landing a career-high 16 kills and four digs.
“He had a great night,” Jones said. “First game, we didn’t get him a lot of sets, but tonight the matchup favored him going to the outside.”
Both Gibbons and Jones benefitted from their opponents’ decision to focus on shutting down Harvard’s strong middle hitters—freshmen Kyle Rehkemper and Nick Madden—allowing them to face single blockers on the outside.
“Our freshmen middles are playing really well and that opens it up on the outside,” Jones said. “Also, the setting is so consistent. I’m just going up and hitting the open spot on the court.”
In the first set, the Crimson relied on its powerful offense to pick up its first win, getting 15 of its 25 points off of kills. Harvard jumped out to a 4-2 lead but fell behind, 14-13, midway through the set.
Thanks to a 4-1 run, the Crimson regained the lead, which it maintained for the remained of the set. But Endicott kept it close, pulling within a single point late t. But up 21-20, Harvard closed out the set using a 4-1 run to secure its first win.
The Crimson rode the momentum into the second set, capturing a commanding 6-2 lead. Endicott was unable to recover from its early hole, never cutting its deficit below two and Harvard recorded another 25-21 win.
But things got away from the Crimson in the third set, as the visitors capitalized on Harvard’s 10 hitting errors. The Crimson also struggled passing the ball consistently in the third, something that it had done well in the first two sets.
“[After going up 2-0], I think that sort of got us a little ahead of ourselves,” Gibbons said. “The passers got into a little bit of lull there.”
But Harvard pulled itself together in the fourth set, recording its biggest victory of the match, 25-19.
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