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After breaking its losing streak last weekend against Princeton, the Harvard men’s volleyball team’s woes returned this weekend, as the Crimson (8-13, 0-7 EVIA) lost in two divisional matchups at New York University (18-8, 5-3) and New Jersey Institute of Technology (7-19, 1-6).
“We just wanted to compete and come out with our first divisional victory after we proved last week we could win on the road,” said freshman middle blocker Kyle Rehkemper.
But Harvard failed to accomplish its goal, losing its sixth and seventh consecutive league contests.
NJIT 3, HARVARD 1
NJIT spoiled the Crimson’s final away game, beating Harvard, 3-1 at the Estelle and Zoom Fleisher Athletic Center in Newark, N.J.
In a matchup between the two teams that haven’t been able to secure a victory in the Hay Division, the Crimson and the Highlanders fought to gain some much-needed momentum as their seasons come to a close.
“Both teams went into the game knowing that one would finally be able to get a divisional win, so we knew they were going to be ready for us,” said Rehkemper.
Harvard jumped out to an early lead in the first set, but an 8-2 run by NJIT erased the deficit and provided them with enough momentum to win the set.
The second set was no different. A constant back-and-forth battle between the two teams culminated with a 6-1 run by the Highlanders that again gave them a large enough cushion to attain a second victorious set.
NJIT took yet another lead deep into the third set, but it was the Crimson that was able to put together enough to secure the frame.
Tied 23-23, the Highlanders took a one-point lead, but Harvard battled back, securing two consecutive points to put them up, 25-24.
NJIT tied the game once again at 25-25 with a kill, but two straight kills by the Crimson gave the visitors the set.
But the fourth game belonged to the Highlanders.
Up 14-12, NJIT went on a 5-2 run to secure the final set, 25-17.
“We are a young team, and in this game, we just let the other team go on a few runs that proved to be the difference,” said freshman outside hitter Chris Gibbons.
NYU 3, HARVARD 2
To begin its road trip, Harvard fell to host NYU, 3-2, in the Coles Sports Center of Manhattan, N.Y., on Friday night.
Though both teams started the game off slowly, with errors on both sides of the net, the Violets were able to jump to an early 1-0 lead in the match.
The Crimson battled back in the second set, evening the score at 1-1 with the help of Rehkemper and junior co-captain outside hitter Matt Jones.
“It was such a back-and-forth game because both teams were setting up their attackers with good opportunities for kills,” Rehkemper said.
The two teams battled like this for the rest of the game, with NYU taking the third set to gain the lead. But once again, Jones, Rehkemper, and Harvard took advantage of kill opportunities and evened the score.
In the fifth set, the Violets and their efficient attacks proved to be too much for the Crimson. NYU took the lead and never looked back, winning, 15-11.
“The division is pretty tough all around in…but we can definitely hang with good teams like NYU,” said Gibbons. “We’ve only struggled with finishing games, and I think that will just come with continuing to play together when we come back next season.”
Jones led all attackers with a total of 26 kills for the match, but it wasn’t enough for Harvard to come out victorious.
“[Matt] has really stepped up this season as a leader and has kept us in a lot of tight games,” Rehkemper said. “The team needs consistency, and we can usually count on him for a lot of kills.”
With losses to both the Violets and NJIT, the Crimson continues to struggle to win within the EVIA division. But Harvard has one last chance when it plays the final game of the season against the Highlanders on April 16 at the Malkin Athletic Center.
Despite the struggles this season, the team is optimistic about the future.
“Essentially most of our team is returning next season,” said Gibbons. “This season we have struggled to finish and get wins, but it has also been good for us to gel as a team on and off the court.”
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