Sophomore Chris Gibbons has helped spur Harvard to its winningist season since 1997. (Gil Talbot)
The No. 15 Men's Volleyball team enters the final weekend of the regular season as it travels to NJIT and Rutgers Newark for matches on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Both matches are slated for 7 p.m.
Scouting the Crimson
The Crimson is coming off another successful weekend where it split against St. Francis (Pa.) and No. 7 Penn State. The Crimson defeated the Red Flash for a second time this season as the team won 3-1 last Friday, while Penn State narrowly escaped its match with Harvard with a 3-2 victory. Harvard, has all but cemented the second seed in the EIVA tournament, sitting at 9-2 in conference, with two matches to play. George Mason sits behind Harvard at 6-5 while St. Francis (Pa.) is fourth with a conference mark of 7-6.
Senior Matt Jones paces the Crimson in kills per set with 3.71, while sophomore Rob Lothman is the assists leader with 10.03 per set and freshman Caleb Zimmick tops Harvard in blocks with 1.20 per stanza. Sophomore, Chris Gibbons leads the team in digs, averaging 2.37 per set.
Scouting the Highlanders
Harvard already stands 1-0 against the Highlanders as it defeated NJIT on March 31, 3-0. That loss has sparked a three-game losing skid for the Highlanders as it has dropped decisions against George Mason (3-0) and Rutgers-Newark (2-3). NJIT enters the contest 10-15 overall and 4-6 in conference.
TJ Jurko paces the Higlanders with 3.48 kills per set while Matthew Lui is the team leader in assists with 7.31 per stanza. Brady Smith leads the team in digs with 2.65 while Doug Battersby is tops on the team in blocks, averaging 0.79 per set.
Scouting the Scarlet Raiders
Harvard proved victorious against the Scarlet Raiders in their previous meeting, disposing of Rutgers-Newark in four sets (3-1). Since then the Scarlet Raiders have gone 1-2 in conference play in that time dropping contests to George Mason and Sacred Heart while defeating NJIT. Rutgers-Newark currently stands at 2-10 in conference and seventh place in the EIVA.
Austin Papas paces the Scarlet Raiders in kills with 3.44 per set, meanwhile Manuel Felipez leads the team in assist with 9.67 per stanza. Zack Chambers is the team leader in digs per set with a 2.12 average. Parth Vedawala paces the Scarlet Raiders in blocks with 1.00 per stanza.
It Feels Like the First Time
Over the last month Harvard has been flirting with the AVCA rankings, and after last weekend's defeat of St. Francis (Pa.) and its near defeat of No. 7 Penn State, the 2012 edition of the Crimson achieved something that no other team in the program's history has been able to do able, crack the national rankings. The 17-4 (9-3 in the EIVA) Crimson was included as the No. 15 team in the latest edition of the AVCA rankings. Harvard has tallied the most wins its had since the 1997 season when it went 17-14 and came in second in the Ivy League tournament.
He Is Number One
Harvard senior Matt Jones has etched his name in the Harvard record books as he has recorded 293 kills this season, putting him No. 1 in Harvard history in career-kills, with 1166. The next best in the category was Brady Weissbourd '09 with 966. Jones also leads in the career-service aces category with 96, 14 more than Weissbourd who had 82. The La Jolla, Calif., native also is No. 1 in program history with 432 digs, as he's tallied 11 more than Brian Rapp '08, who recorded 421.
Wasting No Time
The Harvard Crimson has wasted no time in matches this season as they have won in straight sets nine times in 2012. This marks the most three-set victories its had since the 1998 season when it recorded 11. Four of those straight-set victories have come against conference opponents.