The Harvard men’s volleyball team (16-8, 9-4 EIVA) improved its postseason outlook this weekend, beating conference rivals New Jersey Institute of Technology (7-9, 4-8) and Rutgers-Newark (4-19, 0-12) at home on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
The Crimson clinched a postseason appearance in the EIVA tournament last week with a win over Princeton, making these conference games important in terms of seeding. The top four teams in the EIVA make the tournament and Harvard is ranked fourth and heading towards a difficult matchup with defending EIVA champion Penn State in the first round.
However if Harvard can win next week against Sacred Heart, and third-seeded Princeton loses to second-seeded George Mason, then the Crimson will move into third place and challenge George Mason in the first round.
“We are playing for seeding at this point,” Harvard coach Brian Baise said. “But just as important as that is trying to secure some momentum going into the first round.”
HARVARD 3, RUTGERS-NEWARK 0
Coming off a difficult match against NJIT, the Crimson came out determined to prove itself against a much maligned Rutgers-Newark team.
Harvard was led by dominant hitting performances from juniors Kyle Rehkemper, Will Chambers, and Nick Madden, who each finished with eight kills.
The team jumped out to an early lead in each of the three games and never allowed the Scarlet Raiders to close the gap.
In the first set, the Crimson jumped out to a 10-4 lead and eventually won, 25-14. Throughout the first game, the Crimson never trailed and its hitters posted a kill percentage of .542 while holding Rutgers-Newark to .273.
Harvard did not let up in the second set, securing a 7-3 lead after scoring five straight points and then coasting to a 25-18 victory.
While the Crimson hit a little worse in the game—.391, still well above its season average of .261—it dominated defensively, holding the Scarlet Raiders to a percentage of -.033 with five blocks.
In the third set, it appeared initially like Harvard was going to be challenged far more than previously by Rutgers-Newark as two straight Scarlet Raider points cut the Crimson’s lead to 9-8.
But from there, it was all Harvard. The Crimson went on a 10-2 run to gain a decisive lead and eventually win, 25-12.
Overall, Harvard notched a kill percentage of .490 while limiting Rutgers-Newark to .120, propelling the Crimson to an easy victory.
HARVARD 3, NEW JERSEY INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY 2
Weekend Road Trip Offers TestHeading on the road to take on first-place Rutgers-Newark and NYU, Harvard can go a long way toward securing one of two playoff berths.
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Men's Volleyball Downs Rutgers-NewarkThe Harvard men’s volleyball team had some early hiccups, but recovered to take control of the match, as it downed conference foe Rutgers-Newark, 3-1.
Men's Volleyball Tops Rutgers-Newark, 3-1
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