After losing two EIVA conference games this weekend, Harvard men’s volleyball swept MIT, 3-0, on Tuesday night at the Malkin Athletic Center.
The road losses put the Crimson (10-4, 5-3 EIVA) in fourth place in the conference. With a three-day turnaround, coach Brian Baise believed the key was his team’s mentality.
“Coming off those tough league losses, I wanted us to be loose and I wanted us to be aggressive,” Baise said. “Most importantly, [today] we were focused and we were confident.”
It was a close first game for Harvard, which escaped with a narrow 25-23 victory. The Engineers (11-10) held a lead for nearly the entire set, until an attack error pushed the score to 21 apiece. The two teams exchanged the next four points until the Crimson was able to seal the win.
“One of the first things you remember when you step onto the court is your mistakes from the last time,” said junior co-captain and outside hitter Nick Madden, referring to the uncomfortably tight first frame.
“The challenge is to be tough enough to get over that,” Madden said. “Being able to let go of your past mistakes and then move onto the next point.”
MIT’s offensive efforts were strongest in the first frame, where the Engineers registered 14 of their 33 kills on the night.
Senior Matt Hohenberger led the Engineers with 10 kills.
“Our defense wasn’t closing our blocks very well, which was probably the biggest difference I saw between games one and two,” said Madden.
Harvard took an early lead in the second game but allowed MIT to climb back and knot the score at 11. After calling its first time out of the night, the Crimson returned to the floor and finished the game in convincing fashion, winning 25-17.
In the third frame, the two teams traded points until Harvard gained an 11-8 edge. The Crimson was able to hold on to its lead this time, winning the final stanza 25-19.
“I’m glad we had the fortitude and strength to come back after the first game,” Madden said. “We came back and got those last points we needed and then continued in the last two games.”
Junior libero Chris Gibbons had 11 digs for Harvard, four more than MIT’s defensive specialist Brendan Chang. The Crimson’s 34 digs on the night outpaced the Engineers’ 25.
“Especially after the first game, I thought our defense was excellent,” Braise said.
“Chris was all over the back row,” Madden said. “He was really loud [and] really the general of the back row tonight. I give him my player of the game honors tonight.”