The Harvard men’s volleyball team entered this weekend with a pair of possibilities—the chance of marring Penn State’s unblemished conference record on one day and solidifying a playoff position on the next with a win over St. Francis.
Despite displaying short stretches dominant performances, the Crimson (11-11, 5-5 EIVA) failed to achieve either objective, losing to the Nittany Lions (15-9, 9-0) and the Red Flash (6-17, 4-5) in two tightly contested matches.
ST. FRANCIS 3, HARVARD 1
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a cellar dweller and a potential title contender walk into a gym in the middle of Pennsylvania.
On paper, Saturday’s contest between second-to-last St. Francis and second-place Harvard may have sounded like a joke, but the Red Flash preempted any laughter, downing the Crimson 3-1 after initially going up, 2-0.
“Defensively [it was] probably not the best match,” co-captain Caleb Zimmick said. “Serving too. Those are a couple of things that were within our control and parts that we didn’t execute.”
The result complicated the EIVA playoff picture, as the four schools battling for the final three postseason spots are now within a one-game range.
On Saturday, St. Francis dominated on the defensive end, building a 14-9 block advantage.
Even so, Harvard mounted a comeback in the third frame when the Crimson fended off a pair of match points to claim the set, 28-26.
In the fourth game, the Red Flash returned the favor. After a seesawing sequence handed the visitors a 23-22 advantage, St. Francis won three consecutive points to take the contest.
The Red Flash built a 2-0 lead thanks largely to opposite Mike Marshman, who racked up 12 kills without committing an error on the afternoon. Nine of these finishes came in the first two sets, which St. Francis took, 25-23 and 25-22.
“Any team in our conference can beat any other team on any given day,” said junior outside hitter Branden Clemens. “We always need to make sure to play our hardest…. Every match counts toward making the conference playoffs.”
PENN STATE 3, HARVARD 2
Friday night, on the home court of league-leading Penn State, only seven points separated Harvard from a historic result.
Midway through the fourth set, the Crimson held an 18-13 lead, a 2-1 set advantage, and the opportunity to claim a win on the Nittany Lions’ home court for the first time ever.
Men's Volleyball To Take On Rival Nittany Lions Once AgainMuch has changed in the world of men’s volleyball since Harvard and Penn State last squared off for a conference matchup.
Men's Volleyball Falls in ECAC Standings With Losses to St. Francis, Penn StateBy losing to St. Francis and Penn State, the Crimson (11-10, 7-5 EIVA) plummeted into a two-way tie for fourth, putting the team at risk of missing conference playoffs.
Men's Volleyball Falls in DoubleheaderHarvard Men’s Volleyball (9-12, 6-6 EIVA) had a tough weekend at home as it fell against both of its conference opponents. The Crimson came into the weekend tied for second in the EIVA standings, but with the two losses now finds itself outside of the top four in the conference. After losing an emotion filled five-set thriller to Saint Francis (13-14, 8-4 EIVA) on Friday night, the Crimson suffered a devastating loss to the No.12 Penn State Nittany Lions (17-10, 9-3 EIVA) on senior night.
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