A weekend removed from a dominant victory over Sacred Heart at home the Harvard men’s volleyball team (9-10, 6-4 EIVA) went down to West Virginia to take on the Charleston Golden Eagles (11-15, 0-12 EIVA). The Golden Eagles did not give the Crimson much of a challenge as they won only one of seven sets from the weekend’s contest. Ranked last in EIVA standings, Charleston showed flashes of life against Harvard, but would ultimately fall in both matches.
“We had to get two wins. It puts us in a really good position in the league right now, albeit we have some really tough matches in the next two weekends,” Coach Brian Blaise said. “We fought back in the hunt for the playoffs, so that’s really good. We were really good this weekend for six of seven sets.”
HARVARD 3, CHARLESTON 1
The Crimson, who earned a dominant win the night before, looked to earn a sweep against the Eagles to cap off the weekend. Charleston, however, kept the match interesting as it battled its way to a game victory and pushing the match to a fourth set.
Harvard dominant in the first two sets, winning 25-17 and 25-12, appeared to be on a way to a perfect 6-0 sweep on the weekend. However, a major momentum swing by Charleston in the third set caught Harvard on its heels. Charleston would end the third game with 9 kills and a hitting percentage of .333, while the Crimson committed eight errors and had a hitting percentage of -.182 percent.
“They turned it loose at the service line, and started hitting those serves hard. We just got back on our heels and collapsed from there,” Blaise said. “There was a complete momentum shift, they started playing looser and we started playing tighter. They’ve played good enough teams that when they start getting hot they can make it hard for you.”
The Golden Eagles would win the lopsided set by a score of 25-11.
The third set scare proved to have no effect on the resilient Crimson as it would rebound in the fourth set. Lead by co-captain Casey White and freshman Erik Johnsson, earning 13 and 11 kills, respectively, Harvard closed out the match with a decisive fourth set victory.
The lively play by freshman Matthew Ctvrtlik and Johnsson has invigorated the mature squad, however, the steady heads of White and junior Marko Kostich, makes sure to minimize rookie mistakes.
“We start a lot of freshman, so there’s a tendency to be a bit erratic. I pride myself on being steady both in my play and in my emotions on the court,” White said. “I think it helps the [underclassmen] see that everything is ok when things aren’t going our way.”
Kostich, who leads the team with 364 assists, would serve up 27 in Saturday afternoon’s contest.
HARVARD 3, CHARLESTON 0
After a major victory over Sacred Heart the Crimson looked to keep their momentum and earn another conference victory on the road. An aggressive offensive performance resulted in a quick three set victory for Harvard, winning the sets by scores of 25-20, 25-21, and 25-16.
White lead the team with 11 kills, while Ctvrtlik would lead the team with 19 assists.
“We’re pretty determined to make a playoff run here. I think we’re not afraid to battle; we want to compete,” Blaise said. “We’re starting to do some good things, things we’ve been working on, things we hadn’t done earlier. We’ll see these next two weekends, they’re really important and will tell us a lot.”
After the weekend’s matches Harvard is now tied for second in the conference. It will look to continue its success next weekend as it returns home to take on Saint Francis, also tied for second, and the nationally ranked Penn State Nittany Lions.
“We have two pretty big matches next weekend. We always look forward to Penn State, but with so much parity in the league this year I feel that it’s important to view every match in itself,” White said. “We have to come prepared everyday, and just know that we’re in for a bar fight.”
—Staff writer Stuart Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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