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Men's Volleyball Finishes Homestand with Straight Set Loss to IPFW

The Harvard men’s volleyball team (1-3) finished out the weekend at home with a split after losing to No. 11 IPFW (5-2) in straight sets Saturday at the MAC.

Considering we lost by two each game, and in extra points each time, we aren't extremely upset with our play. We fought hard and just couldn't finish

“We felt good going into this match as well,” senior middle blocker Caleb Zimmick said. “We knew that IPFW was probably going to be better than Ball State, but we also were confident after the win on Friday. We were excited for the match and ready to go.”

Though the final match score suggested an lopsided day, all three sets went to more than 25 points. Senior outside hitter DJ White spearheaded the Crimson offense with a near double-double, finishing with 16 kills and nine digs. Younger brother and fellow outside hitter Casey White also nearly had a double-double, with 10 kills and eight digs.

We had just gotten back from playing the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation,” freshman setter Marko Kostich added. “The week was focused on correcting the mistakes that were apparent against those two teams.”

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Kostich had 42 assists during the match, and Zimmick recorded eight kills. The latter was also named EIVA Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts, while White was named Offensive Player of the Week in a Crimson sweep.

The team had a higher hitting average than the Mastodons—and the previous game—with .340 as well fewer errors, but could not match its opponent in the number of attacking plays, which had 29 more attacks.

On the defensive side, Zimmick had five blocks, almost half of the team total of 11. The Crimson held IPFW to a .256 kill percentage, but despite the team’s efforts, the Mastodons had 56 kills and six aces.

“IPFW served more aggressively than Ball State, and they saw greater success with their right-side attack,” Kostich said. “Knowing a hitter's tendencies in different situations of the game is something that takes a while to learn. I think this weekend was a step in the right direction.”

In the opening set, Harvard fell behind by six points early on, but bounced back to tie the set up at 16 points. The team did get a 25-24 advantage, but IPFW had two kills in a row to put it on top and shift momentum. Casey White responded with a kill for Harvard, tying up the game, but it was not enough to stop the Mastadons, which won 28-26.

“Considering we lost by two each game, and in extra points each time, we aren't extremely upset with our play. We fought hard and just couldn't finish,” Zimmick said.

The second set was nearly identical to the first, except it found Harvard with the early lead by four points, but the team was set back by errors that allowed IPFW to get back into the game.  

Similar to the previous set, Harvard came away with a 25-24 lead, but IPFW pushed the game to 26-25 with a pair of kills. Harvard tied the game up, but IPFW came away with the 28-26 win.

“I think it's encouraging to see our fight and high level of play,” Zimmick said. “We now know that we have to work on completing the match and playing our best at the end of each set.”

The Crimson had the lead for most of the third set, with an offense led by DJ White who had six kills in the set. Though Mastodons took the 24-23 lead late in the set, Harvard fought through several match points before ultimately falling 31-29.  

“It's still early in the season, so we are getting to know each other more each week on the court.” Kostich said.

—Staff writer Katherine H. Scott can be reached at katherinescott@college.harvard.edu.

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