The No. 13 Harvard men’s volleyball team looked to pick up the first wins of its 2014 campaign in back-to-back home contests over the weekend. Unfortunately, facing two of the top teams in the country, the Crimson (0-3) faltered, suffering a 3-1 loss to Lewis on Friday night, then falling in straight sets to Loyola the following afternoon.
LOYOLA 3, HARVARD 0
Harvard succumbed for the second time in as many days to high-quality opposition, losing 3-0 to No. 2 Loyola (6-1) on Saturday afternoon. The visiting Ramblers stifled the Crimson offense, which was only able to post a hitting percentage of .044 in response to .515 from its opposition.
“It was pretty similar to last night,” coach Brian Baise said. “They’re a real good serving team, and we had a hard time handling that serve, so our offense never got going. I think, to be honest, our defense struggled just as much. We can’t let the opposing team hit that well and expect to win. Those were the two problems today.”
At the outset, Harvard was able to keep up with the Ramblers. Early on in the first set, the match was tied at nine. However, Loyola went on a 5-0 run and never looked back.
From that point on, the visitors consistently piled on the pressure. The Crimson’s 25-19 loss in the first frame was the closest contest all afternoon. The Ramblers pulled away in the second and third sets with back-to-back 25-14 wins.
“They served really well, and we were out of system a lot of the time, not passing great, and it was tough to get in a rhythm,” co-captain Nick Madden said. “We would give them a little bit of a lead and then they would start taking aggressive swings that we weren’t able to return.”
Despite the loss, the contest against a tough opponent offered other benefits that Baise was keen to point out.
“We feel like we can compete at that level, and we learn a lot when we play those teams,” Baise said. “[From this weekend] I think we’re going to know a lot more about ourselves and what we need to do. So it’s always a lot of fun to play teams of that caliber, and hopefully we can make it a closer match next time.”
LEWIS 3, HARVARD 1
Harvard fell on its home court to No. 11 Lewis (5-2) in a 3-1 loss on Friday night. Despite narrowly taking the first set in a 25-23 win, the Crimson was unable to hold back the Flyers, who put on a dominant performance.
Harvard only gave up seven aces, and the Flyers committed 15 errors to the Crimson’s nine, but the away squad never gave up easy points on the service and consistently put pressure on the home defense.
“That was a pretty thorough defeat,” Baise said. “They made it really tough with their serve for the most part. When they’re serving like that, we couldn’t get our offense going at all. They hit almost .500 for the match, we hit .240—you’re never going to win a game when they out hit you two-to-one.”
Lewis pulled ahead in the second, third, and fourth frames, registering 25-16, 25-17, and 25-14 wins over the Crimson.
“Tonight we realized we just have to come out with more energy,” Madden said. “Our fire was down, and we were a little bit hesitant. We were waiting for them. They were on the offensive, and we were trying to defend against everything instead of us being on the offensive.”
Baise praised the character of his team as the Crimson tried to climb back into the match, but Harvard was never able to work its way back into contention.
“Our guys never give up,” Baise said. “Sometimes you can find a little crack, a little weakness, and put some pressure on them, but after that first set they were awfully good.”
Amidst the defeat, junior outside hitter DJ White put in a solid performance, leading the Crimson in kills and digs with 11 and seven, respectively.
“I think we had a tough match today and we are a better team than what we showed tonight on the court,” Madden said.
—Staff writer Julian Ryan can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JRCrimson.
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