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Season Preview: Crimson Looks to Return to EIVA Playoffs

Photo of Gil Weintraub courtesy of DSPics.com

Cambridge, Mass. – After making the conference playoffs last season for the first time in four years, the Crimson looks to build upon the success it had last season. Head coach Brian Baise will look to the seniors for their experience and skill to guide the team back to the playoffs for a second consecutive year.

The Crimson finished the 2009 season tied for first in the Hay Division of the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association with a 6-2 conference record and an 11-6 overall mark. Harvard was one of just two teams from the Hay Division to advance to the conference playoffs.

As the overall No. 8 seed in the conference, the Crimson traveled to No. 5 George Mason for the first round of the playoffs. The season ended for Harvard with a 3-1 loss to the Patriots.

After a slow 3-5 start to the season, the Crimson won eight of its final 10 regular-season matches and lost just one conference contest in that stretch.

With the graduation of outside hitter Jeff Nathan ’09 and middle blocker Brady Weissbourd ’09, who ranked third in the EIVA and seventh in the nation in kills, the Crimson will look to other players to make an impact on offense.

Co-captains Gil Weintraub and Erik Kuld will play vital role in the Crimson’s playoff goals. Weintraub led the team and was fourth in the league in assists last season, with 12.29 per set, but moves from setter to outside hitter this season.
 
Kuld appeared in all 19 matches and each of the 75 sets for the Crimson in 2009. He finished the season ranked 25th nationally with 0.35 service aces per set. Senior middle blocker Soren Rosier appeared in all 19 matches for the Crimson last season, averaging 0.79 kills, 0.72 digs and 0.72 blocks per set.

“We’re looking for our seniors to anchor this team, on and off the court,” says Baise. “They bring a great deal of experience and skill, and they want nothing more than to wrap up their great careers here with a Hay Division championship.”

Harvard’s three sophomores, Nikola Ivica, Matt Jones and Dan Schreff, will use the experience gained last year to be integral players on this year’s team. Ivica is the team’s returning leader in kills from last season, averaging 3.55 per set.

“Matt and Nikola will again be expected to carry a good portion of the offensive load,” says Baise. “Dan, our libero, will be key for our service receive.”

The Crimson has three freshmen joining the squad this season who will seek to make an immediate impact both offensively and defensively. Paul Glootz, a middle blocker from Stassfurt, Germany, will play an important role in the middle blocker position.

Setters Derek Jansma and Rob Lothman will have an immediate impact at the setter position. “It’s a lot of responsibility for a first-year player, but both have earned our confidence in pre-season training,” Baise says of the two.

Harvard opens the 2010 season at Juniata on Jan. 23. Hay Division play begins for the Crimson on Feb. 27 as Harvard hosts Rutgers-Newark.