The Crimson opens its 11-match home schedule this weekend (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The No. 13 Harvard men's volleyball team will open its 11-match home slate when it welcomes No. 11 Lewis and No. 2 Loyola Chicago to the Malkin Athletic Center this weekend. The Crimson entertains the Flyers Friday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m., and hosts the Ramblers Saturday, Jan. 25 at 3 p.m.
Ivy League Digital Network
For the first time ever, each of Harvard's 11 home matches will be streamed in HD quality featuring a live scoreboard, new graphics package and play-by-play commentary through the Ivy League Digital Network. Subscribers to the network can watch matches both live and on-demand at their convenience, and will have access to live and on-demand content for all Harvard athletics events throughout the duration of their subscription.
Last Time Out
In the second exhibition match between the No. 13 Harvard and Laval, the Crimson was upset by the host Red and Gold, 3-1 at PEPS Thursday, Jan. 9. The defeat came by set scores of 25-15, 17-15, 35-33, 27-25.
Junior DJ White contributed on both ends of play with a double-double effort of 14 kills and 13 digs, while freshman Casey White notched 10 kills and seven digs. Classmate Nick Bendell handled setting responsibilities with 35 assists and added 12 digs for a double-double.
A trio of Crimson joined the White brothers in the defensive effort with contributions of double-digit digs. Sophomore Branden Clemens notched 13 digs, while Bendell added 12 and senior Chris Gibbons posted 11. At the net, senior Kyle Rehkemper led the block party with six and junior Caleb Zimmick recorded four.
Related Link: No. 13 Men's Volleyball Falls to Laval, 3-1, in Exhibition Match
The Crimson started 2014 with a 3-1 setback to then-No. 4 Long Beach State in the championship round of the 50th Asics Invitational.
DJ White's 3.50 kps leads the Crimson's offense, while Kyle Rehkemper comes in at a close second with 3.25 kps and a .722 hitting percentage that sits atop the EIVA. Nick Bendell has handled all the setting duties notching 10.50 aps.
Defensively, Harvard receives a conference-best 3.00 dps from Nick Madden, and 2.25 dps from his co-captain Chris Gibbons. Madden and Caleb Zimmick lead the Crimson's defense at the net with 0.75 bps apiece.
Rank and File
After knocking off two ranked opponents in pool play at the 50th Asics Invitational, Harvard entered the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division I-II poll at a program-best 13th Jan. 6. The Crimson, which received votes in the preseason poll, has remained in the national mix for three-straight weeks, not faltering from No. 13.
Related Link: AVCA Division I-II National Poll
Matches at the MAC
The Crimson has hosted 53 opponents in 104 matches under the roof of the Malkin Athletic Center to boast a 74-30 (.712) all-time mark at home. Harvard's home court advantage includes a record-best nine-match home win streak that lasted more than a calendar year between Feb. 18, 2012 to April 5, 2013. Currently, the Crimson has won two straight at the MAC dating back to April 12, 2013.
Seven active players have already made a place for themselves in Harvard's record book. Chris Gibbons owns the top spot for career digs (582) and digs in a season when the senior notched 219 in 2013. Nick Madden is moving up in the ranks, as the senior sits third on the all-time career block assists list with 179.
Related Link: Men's Volleyball Record Book
Seniors Chris Gibbons and Kyle Rehkemper earned spots on the 50th Asics Invitational All-Tournament team after helping Harvard down two ranked opponents – then-No. 5 Stanford and then-No. 8 UCSB – to reach the championship round of the invite. Rehkemper contributed to the Crimson's offense with 13 kills and a .792 hitting percentage while Gibbons registered nine digs.
Scouting No. 11 Lewis
Lewis carries a 4-2 record into the weekend and is riding a three-match win streak. Greg Petty leads the attack with 3.11 kps as Geoff Powell and Eric Fitterer have added 3.05 kps and 2.25 kps, respectively. Scott Fifer has contributed 10.75 aps with Lucas Yanez (2.37 dps) and Bobby Walsh (1.58 bps) carrying the load defensively.
Inside the Series with the Flyers
Harvard and Lewis are prepared to meet on the court for the second time in program history. The Flyers own the victory in the series, defeating the Crimson, 3-0, on Jan. 6, 2006.
Scouting No. 2 Loyola Chicago
Loyola will make its first road trip of the season when it travels to Cambridge after notching a 4-1 overall record at home, including two-consecutive sweep victories. Joe Smalzer boasts a 3.17 kps average and has hit .288 on the year. Thomas Jaeschke, meanwhile, has chipped in 2.94 kps with Nicholas Olson adding 2.11 kps. Peter Hutz has dished out 9.61 aps. The Ramblers defense is led by Olson's 1.67 bps average with Smalzer (1.00 bps) and Peter Jasaitis (1.72 dps) also contributing to the effort.
Prior to Saturday's match, Loyola will take on Sacred Heart Friday night.
Inside the Series with Ramblers
Saturday marks the second edition of the Harvard-Loyola Chicago series. The two first met last season at the Hall of Fame Classic where the Ramblers came out on top, 3-1.
Related Link: Men's Volleyball Falls to Loyola Chicago, 3-1, at Hall of Fame Classic
Look Who's Back
Harvard returns 10 letterwinners to the court in 2014 including two-time All-EIVA first team selection DJ White. White a junior, outside hitter, carried the third highest hitting percentage (.314) in the EVIA, which also ranked 26th in the nation, and led the team with 3.19 kps, good for seventh in the league. Classmate Caleb Zimmick, who was an All-EIVA second team selection a year ago, led the EIVA and ranked 10th in the NCAA with a hitting percentage of .374. The middle blocker produced the ninth-highest blocks per set average in the country (1.24), to rank third in the conference.
Returning to Cambridge for their final season are seniors Kyle Rehkemper (0.87 bps), an All-EIVA second tem performer in 2013, Will Chambers (1.42 kps), Chris Gibbons (2.28 dps), Nick Madden (2.90 kps) and Michael Owen (1.39 kps).
Also returning for the Crimson are sophomores Alister Bent, Branden Clemens (2.33 kps) and Alec Scholssman.
New to the Scene
Three members of the Class of 2017 have been added to the roster for 2014; Nick Bendell, Samuel Murphy and Casey White. Bendell, a 6-foot-2 setter from Orland Park, Ill., comes to Cambridge as a three-time All-Southeast conference selection while White, a 6-foot-4 outside hitter, a native of Hermosa Beach, Calif., joins the squad after winning a state championship. Murphy makes the trip to Harvard from Winnipeg, Manitoba where he was named Male Athlete of the Year at Vincent Massey three times as a 5-foot-9 libero.
Related Link: Men's Volleyball Adds Bendell and White for 2014
Captaining the Crimson
For the sixth straight season, a duo will serve as co-captains of the men's volleyball team as seniors Chris Gibbons and Nick Madden take on the leadership responsibilities. The pair is the 24th set of Crimson captains to guide the squad since Arthur T. Houlihan III '82 and Walter H. Trumbell Jr. '81 served as the program's first co-captains in Harvard's inaugural season, 1981.
Pacing the Sidelines
Head coach Brian Baise returns for his sixth season at the helm of the Harvard men's volleyball program. Baise owns a 61-52 record on the sidelines and has guided the Crimson to back-to-back 18 win seasons, which tie for the third-most victories in Harvard history. Under his guidance, the Crimson has been ranked twice in the AVCA national rankings. The 2012 EIVA Bob Sweeney Coach of the Year has mentored eight All-EIVA honorees and has coached four AVCA Academic Award winning teams.
Assistant coach Ahmed Ibrahim, who helped Harvard to unprecedented success in 2012 and 2013, returns to the sideline for his third season.
Baise caught up with GoCrimson.com to preview the 2014 season.
A new face has been added to the Harvard volleyball staff as Jeffrey Aucoin joins both the men's and women's volleyball teams as assistant coach. He comes to Cambridge after spending last season as an assistant coach at the University of New Hampshire where he earned his bachelor's degree in kinesiology in 2011 and his master's in physical education in 2013.
In the fall, Aucoin helped the women's team to a 14-9 overall record and 9-5 against the Ivy League, good for second place in the conference standings. The Crimson's 14 total wins and nine conference victories marked the most for the program since 2004, while its 9-2 record at home was a program best.
Harvard will make the short trip to crosstown rival MIT, Saturday, Feb. 1.