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Men's Volleyball Quells Princeton Comeback in 3-2 Victory

Matt Jones collected 21 kills in a 3-2 win over Princeton Saturday (Gil Talbot).

Head coach Brian Baise Postgame Comments

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. –
The Harvard men's volleyball team jumped out to a two-set lead over Princeton and despite a valiant effort from the Tigers which saw them square the match at two sets apiece, the Crimson pulled it out in the fifth set for a 3-2 win Saturday afternoon at the Malkin Athletic Center. Harvard snaps a four-game skid with the win, moving to 7-5 on the year, while the Tigers dropped their ninth straight contest.   

Harvard found its groove early in the match and worked its way out to a commanding 18-12 lead in the opening set. Chris Gibbons ripped five-straight serves to vault the Crimson to a 23-14 edge and kills from Paul Glootz and Matt Jones closed out the first, 25-16, in favor of the Crimson.

The teams stayed tight throughout the second frame with Princeton holding the set's biggest lead at 17-13. The Crimson closed in but was unable to take the lead, and stared a 24-23 deficit in the face with Princeton looking to serve out the set. Gibbons came up with a timely kill to push the score to 24-24, and the teams traded points until the score stood knotted at 27 apiece. A Jones kill gave Harvard a 28-27 lead and a huge block by Michael Owen and Nick Madden powered Harvard to a two-set lead.

Princeton cleared its throat in the third, getting out to a quick 10-5 lead and never letting the Crimson get close. The Tigers hit .349 in the frame, their best performance of the match, and claimed the third by a 25-22 score. Harvard was able to tie the score at 8-8 and again at 9-9 in the fourth set, but Princeton took off on a 7-2 run from there and never looked back. The Tigers collected a match-best 16 kills in the game, claiming a 25-21 set win and pushing the match to a deciding fifth set.

With the momentum on its side, Princeton came out firing and worked its way to a 7-3 lead, forcing a Harvard timeout. From that point on it was all Crimson, as the hosts collected eight-straight points in the midst of a 12-3 run to claim the fifth set, 15-10, and the match, 3-2.

Jones led all hitters with 21 kills in the match and added eight digs and three block assists. Gibbons totaled 17 kills on the afternoon and also posted eight digs, eight blocks assists and a service ace. Kyle Rehkemper also had double-digit kills with 12 and had a match-high 13 block assists. Jeff Stapleton and Michael Dye were Princeton's top hitters, collecting 19 and 17 kills, respectively, in the match.

Harvard wings westward for its next three matches as it will take on Cal State Northridge March 12, Pepperdine March 15 and USC March 16 on the road.