A crowd of 614 at the MAC helped Harvard to its 12th straight home victory (Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's volleyball team clinched a spot in the EIVA playoffs as it captured its 12th straight home victory on Friday night. The Crimson defeated Princeton in a five-set thriller, 23-25, 25-20, 25-18, 18-25, 15-13.
The victory improved the Crimson to 14-7 overall and 7-3 in the EIVA. Harvard is now in third place of the conference standings, one game behind George Mason which will visit Cambridge tomorrow at 2 p.m.
Nick Madden registered a double-double (12 kills, 11 digs) and paced Harvard with four blocks, as four players tallied 10 or more kills. DJ White led Harvard with 16 kills on .389 hitting, while Caleb Zimmick produced 14 kills while hitting .550, and Kyle Rehkemper hit .353 with 10 kills and four blocks. With 53 assists, senior Rob Lothman netted his eighth career match with at least 50 helpers and helped guide the Crimson to a .306 hitting percentage for the night.
Princeton (10-8, 8-4) was led by Pat Schwagler's 18 kills and Cody Kessel's 14-kill, 12-dig double-double.
Harvard dropped the first set, 25-23, despite pulling even with the Tigers heading down the stretch, 19-19. Princeton scored two straight points to open a 21-19 margin and scored set point on a Kessel kill, 25-23.
The Crimson bounced back and led nearly the entire way en route to a 25-20 victory in set two. A 5-1 run broke a 9-9 tie to put the Crimson on top by four, 14-10, and Harvard extended that advantage to 17-11 on an ace and kill by Madden. A Tiger service error gave the Crimson set point.
Harvard rolled to a 10-2 lead to start the third and earned a double-digit lead thanks to a Madden kill, 15-5. Princeton rallied to pull back within four, 20-16, but the Crimson closed the frame strong with a 5-2 spurt to take the victory, 25-18.
The Tigers led the entire way in the fourth and evened the match at two sets apiece with a 25-18 win. Harvard's home-court advantage proved to be the difference in the fifth set, however, as the crowd helped the Crimson take an 8-5 lead at the midway point. A pair of Princeton errors gave Harvard match point, 15-13.