Clemens tallied a match-high 15 kills to open the Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic (Ben Barnhart).
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Harvard men's volleyball team dropped three straight sets after winning the first to lose to Loyola Chicago Friday night, 3-1, in the first round of the Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic.
Three Crimson (3-2, 1-1 EIVA) finished with double-digit kills led by Branden Clemens' 15-kill performance. Nick Madden and Michael Owen scored 10 kills apiece, while Rob Lothman dished out 38 assists. Caleb Zimmick turned in a solid all-around performance with eight kills, a .500 hitting percentage and seven blocks.
Harvard combined to hit .278 for the match but allowed Loyola (6-5) to hit .360 with nine service aces. Thomas Jaeschke registered 13 kills to pace the attack with Joseph Smalzer and Trevor Novotny adding 11 kills and 10 kills, respectively.
Harvard fell behind 5-2 to open the first set but rebounded with a kill by Madden, a block by Kyle Rehkemper and Clemens, and a kill by Clemens to even the score at five. A second 3-0 run put the Crimson in front, 9-7, before Harvard opened up a four-point margin, 21-17, behind back-to-back blocks from Caleb Zimmick and Madden. Loyola pulled within one, 22-21, but was not able to catch the leader before Clemens fifth kill of the frame gave Harvard set point, 25-23.
The Ramblers used a 4-0 run to gain a 10-6 edge in the second set and maintained that margin throughout the rest of the frame en route to a 25-18 victory. The Crimson hit .304 with 13 kills in the set, but was outdone by Loyola's .550 hitting percentage.
Harvard suffered a similar fate in the third as Loyola posted a .516 hitting percentage to the Crimson's .346. A 6-0 run early gave the Ramblers an 8-3 lead and Harvard was never able to close the gap, falling 25-21.
Harvard held a 7-5 lead in the fourth before an 11-1 run by Loyola blew the set wide open. The Crimson failed to come within five points of the lead down the stretch as the Ramblers took match point, 25-18.
Harvard is back in action tomorrow at the Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic taking on Juniata at 6 p.m. The Eagles, ranked No. 3 in this week's AVCA Div. III poll, were swept by Springfield, the No. 1 team in Div. III.