Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot.
The Harvard men’s volleyball team used strong play at the
end of the season to close out the year with a 5-16 overall record
and a 3-5 mark in EIVA Hay Division play. Despite injuries to
several members of the team, Harvard remained in contention for an
EIVA playoff spot until the final weekend of competition.
“I’m very proud of the way our team competed this year,” said third-year head coach Brian Baise. “All of the injuries made things difficult. We were changing our lineups on a weekly, and sometimes daily basis, and many players had to learn two or three different positions.”
Although the team got off to a 0-9 start, the Crimson looked at conference play as a new beginning and won five out of the next eight matches. Harvard dropped its first conference match to Rutgers-Newark, but won consecutive matches against NJIT, Sacred Heart and NYU to move to 3-1 in the EIVA Hay Division.
“Without exception, every player on our roster played an influential role,” said Baise. Two newcomers, senior Nick Manzo and freshman Scott Yim, joined the team during the season, which added depth on the bench and more options to a depleted rotation.
Harvard had four players rank in the top 50 in three different statistical categories, while the team was nationally ranked in six categories. Sophomore Matt Jones led the team with .30 aces per set, good for 30th in the nation. Senior co-captain Erik Kuld ranked 16th and Jones was 18th after recording 4.24 and 4.13 kills per set, respectively. Freshman Rob Lothman ranked 28th in the nation with 9.73 assists per set while senior co-captain Gil Weintraub was 37th with 4.86 assists per set.
As a team, the Crimson recorded 1.39 aces per set, good for 10th in the nation and fourth in the EIVA, and handed out 13.54 assists per set, which stood 19th in the nation and also fourth in the conference. Harvard also ranked 20th nationally in kills (14.45) and digs (10.25) per set, while tallying a .227 team hitting percentage. The team also recorded 2.14 blocks per set, good for 31st nationally.
In 10 of 17 matches this season, the team recorded more kills than its opponent, and handed out more assists in nine contests.
The EIVA recognized Jones as the Hay Division Player of the Week, March 22, after propelling the team to a 3-0 win over Sacred Heart.
Kuld and Weintraub were also honored by the conference this season for their excellence in the classroom as well as on the court. The co-captains were named to the EIVA All-Academic team for posting at least a 3.5 GPA and being a main contributor on the team.
Graduating seniors Weintraub, Kuld, Manzo and Soren Rosier will leave behind a team that “loves the sport and loves to compete,” Baise commented. “Whether it’s in practice or for a league championship, they never gave up, never got down and never stopped competing.”
Rising juniors Jones and Dan Schreff were elected as captains and will lead the 2011 team that looks to return to the EIVA playoffs once again.