The Harvard men's volleyball team will begin its 33rd season of play this weekend as it takes on Stevens Institute of Technology and New York University. The Crimson will first be in action Friday, Jan. 18 against Stevens at 7 p.m. before returning to the court Saturday, Jan. 19 at 4 p.m. against NYU.
Harvard is coming off one of the most successful seasons in program history, as the Crimson earned its first-ever national ranking in 2012 and finished the year at No. 15 in the AVCA Coaches Poll. Harvard posted an 18-6 overall record and took second in the EIVA with a 10-4 conference mark, with the team's 18 wins representing the third-highest total ever.
The Crimson returns 10 of 12 letterwinners from last year's squad which ranked seventh in the NCAA in hitting percentage (.298), 11th in aces (1.13), 14th in kills (12.49) and 15th in digs (8.87). Headlining the group of returners is outside hitter DJ White who competed for the US Men's Junior National Team this summer after earning All-EIVA first team honors as a freshman. All-EIVA second team selection Rob Lothman is back as the team's primary setter along with Nick Madden who ranked second on the squad with 3.01 kps in 2012. Caleb Zimmick, who led the team with a .409 hitting percentage and a 1.20 bps average before his season was cut short due to an injury, will also be back on court for his sophomore season.
Harvard has welcomed three newcomers to the roster for 2013; Branden Clemens, Alec Schlossman and Alister Bent. Clemens, a 6'7" opposite hitter from Carmel, Ind., joins the squad after winning back-to-back state championships while Alec Schlossman, a 6'3" outside hitter from Canyon Country, Calif., comes to Cambridge as a three-time All-Foothill League first team selection. Bent, a 5'7" libero from Weston, Fla., was a three-year letterwinner and earned Miami Herald All-County Honorable Mention status as a senior.
Captaining the Ship
Rob Lothman and Nick Madden will serve as the team's captains for the 2013 season. Lothman was named to the All-EIVA second team in 2012 after setting a career-high with 888 assists, the fifth-best single-season total in program history. Lothman directed the Crimson attack to a .298 hitting percentage, which ranked seventh in the NCAA, while his 10.1 assists per set were good for 18th in the nation. Madden, meanwhile, started all 24 matches last year for the Crimson and ranked second on the squad in kills (3.01) and points (3.6). His 268 kills in 2012 were good for eighth in program history while his 147 career blocks rank his sixth all-time.
Harvard was chosen fourth in the EIVA preseason poll with a total of 31 points. Penn State, the defending conference champion, was tabbed first with six first-place votes while George Mason and Princeton were chosen second and third, respectively, with one first-place vote apiece. Rounding out the eight-team field in order of predicted finish are St. Francis (Pa.), NJIT, Sacred Heart and Rutgers-Newark.
Bringing Home the Gold
DJ White started all four sets at outside hitter as the United States Men's Junior National Team defeated Canada to claim gold at the 2012 NORCECA Men's Junior Continental Championship (U-21). The Crimson sophomore started every set he played in; including each set in the semi-finals against Puerto Rico and finals, and the United States won all five of its matches in the six-day tournament to earn a trip to the 2013 FIVB Men's Volleyball Junior World Championship.
White ranked fourth overall in kills and hit .492 in the tournament. He recorded nine kills and three digs in the championship game.
Playing in the Pros
After rewriting the Crimson record books in his four seasons in Cambridge, former Harvard men's volleyball outside hitter Matt Jones '12 has signed a one-year contract with Volley Bartreng, a professional volleyball team in Luxembourg. The La Jolla, Calif., native will be the team's starting outside hitter during its 2012-13 campaign.
In his senior season, Jones was named to the All-EIVA first team after becoming the Crimson's all-time leader in kills (1,218), digs (452) and service aces (97). His 345 kills in 2012 were good for second-most in a single season, behind only the 391 kills Brady Weissbourd '09 tallied in 2009.