MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Fast Start Gives Way to Forgettable Rest of Season

Kevin H. Lin

Junior co-captain Matt Jones was the dominant force on Harvard’s frontline this year, and his 332 kills were by far the most on the team. The Applied Mathematics concentrator also had 61 blocks, 13 of which were solo.

Although the Harvard men’s volleyball team began the season with a string of victories and earned retribution for some of last year’s losses, the Crimson (9-13, 1-7 EIVA Hay) struggled in league play in the latter stretch of its season, earning its only league victory against NJIT in the last game of the season.

The Crimson came flying out of the gates, starting the season winning six of its first seven games.

“We started off with a better start than we’ve had in recent years,” said junior co-captain Matt Jones. “Then we had a weaker part in our schedule. Our goal was to do well in the league, but we were never really able to establish a rhythm there.”

After the initial success, the young Harvard team went through a rough stretch, losing 12 out of its final 15 games.

“We were in a unique situation,” Crimson coach Brian Baise said.  “Half of [the players on] our team were freshman, and we just had one senior—it’s pretty rare when that happens.”


The team relied on rookies Will Chambers, Chris Gibbons, Nick Madden, Michael Owen, and Kyle Rehkemper throughout the season.

“[Having a young team] definitely posed its challenges. It always takes some time to get freshmen up and ready to go.” Baise said. “I can’t say enough about this freshman class. They were willing to do anything they had to do learn what Harvard volleyball was about.”

“The freshman did a great job for us,” Jones echoed. “Obviously we would have loved to have gotten more wins as a team, but I think individually we did some great things.”

Despite the losses in the latter part of the season, there remained some bright spots for Harvard.

“Our captains were great this year. They built great team chemistry.” Baise said. “They kept our team focused and were leaders on and off the court.”

Through the tough stretch in the season, the Crimson relied upon Jones for his leadership and kills, especially.

“He was our go-to guy,” sophomore Derek Jansma said. “When we needed a point or a kill, he was there. He played a phenomenal season.”

When the team was successful, they touted great service and defense.

“When those were on, we were pretty tough to beat,” Baise said. “A lot hinged on receiving other team’s serves.”

The team recorded several key victories, including two wins against the other varsity volleyball program in the Ivy League, Princeton. And when the team didn’t emerge victorious, Baise found aspects of his team’s play to be proud of.


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