Crimson Concludes Rocky Season With First League Win

Kevin H. Lin

Shown here in earlier action, junior co-captain Matt Jones tallied a match-high 24 kills to go along with two service aces, five digs, and six blocking assists Saturday afternoon at home. He helped the Crimson close out its season on a high note, defeating NJIT in four sets for its first conference win of the year.

In more ways than one, the stories of this year’s Harvard men’s volleyball team and its four-game thriller on Saturday have been ones of perseverance.

The Crimson (9-13, 1-7 EIVA Hay) rebounded from a tough third set to beat the New Jersey Institute of Technology, 3-1, Saturday afternoon at the Malkin Athletic Center.

With the victory, Harvard avenged a 3-1 defeat last week to the Highlanders (7-20, 1-7 Hay).

Up 20-16 in the third set, the Crimson looked poised to sweep NJIT. While the score spoke of a closer set, Harvard had been dominant.

The Crimson players electrified the crowd with their play, setting up one another for several kills and coming up with some crucial blocks on the Highlanders’ hitters.


But the momentum shifted in NJIT’s favor when sophomore Kevin Van Oss found his hitting rhythm and led his team to a comeback.

The Highlanders made quick work of spoiling Harvard’s lead and closed out the set, 25-23.

“We were up, and when we let that one go, everybody on the court felt like it was our fault,” said senior middle blocker Shaun Mansour. “They hadn’t really beaten us. We just lost to ourselves. So, when we got back on the court for the fourth game, we weren’t thinking about just beating them; we wanted to destroy them.”

Sure enough, the Crimson’s performance in the fourth set was nothing short of destruction.

In part due to an impressive display of serving by junior co-captain Matt Jones, the team jumped out to a 12-2 lead over its opponents, taking the momentum back.

While NJIT would come back to within seven points of Harvard later on in the set, the Crimson’s form ultimately overwhelmed the Highlanders’ cohesion.

Harvard was able to take advantage of several errors in communication to secure a steady advantage, and—unlike in the last match—when the Crimson came close to clinching victory, this time it closed.

With his team up by eight points and needing just one to secure victory, Mansour, Harvard’s lone senior, concluded his collegiate career with an impressive kill.

“The team has a lot of good chemistry,” Mansour said. “I knew that when it came down to it, the team knew how much it would mean to me to have a part in the win, and I knew that Rob [Lothman] would try to get me the ball if he could. When it came up, I was ready.”

In the end, the Crimson closed the match with a 25-16 win in the fourth set, ending its season with its first conference win of the year.


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