Clemens and the Crimson begin EIVA action Friday (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's volleyball team heads to Fairfield, Conn., Friday to open EIVA play against Sacred Heart at 7 p.m.
Last Time Out
Harvard notched 20 team blocks en route to a 3-1 victory over crosstown rival MIT Saturday, Feb. 1 at duPont Gymnasium.
The 20 team blocks were the most for the Crimson since Harvard totaled 21 in a 3-2 win over Princeton March 5, 2011. Senior Kyle Rehkemper led Harvard at the net with six total blocks, the most for a single player since Caleb Zimmick recorded seven in a 3-2 victory in the 2013 EIVA semifinals last season over George Mason.
Casey White led the offensive charge with a career-high 14 kills and a .426 hitting percentage while senior Nick Madden contributed a well-rounded performance with 12 kills, four service aces, three digs and three blocks. Nick Bendell and Michael Owen shared the setting responsibilities, as the freshman and senior handed out 22 assists and 20 assists, respectively.
DJ White boasts a 2.46 kps average and has hit .237 on the year to lead Harvard's (1-3) attack. Casey White, meanwhile, has chipped in 2.40 kps with Nick Madden adding 2.07 kps. Nick Bendell has dished out 8.92 aps. The Crimson defense is led by Chris Gibbons 1.60 dps with Madden (1.54 dps), DJ White (1.53 dps) and Caleb Zimmick (0.79 bps) also contributing to the effort.
Rank and File
After knocking off two ranked opponents in pool play at the Asics Invitational Jan. 3, 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, remained in the national mix for three-straight weeks, but has since fallen from the rankings.
Related Link: AVCA Division I-II National Poll
Harvard protected the net against MIT, posting 16 total blocks, a season high and the most by a Crimson squad since tallying 18 in a 3-2 win over NJIT April 12, 2013. Currently, Harvard ranks No. 33 in the NCAA in blocks per set (2.23) while Caleb Zimmick (0.79 bps) is tied for 58th on the individual list.
Serving Up Aces
Senior Nick Madden has turned in a total of six aces already on the young season, bringing his career total to 46, which puts him just four shy of entering Harvard's career-top 10. Currently he ranks 20th in the nation with 0.40 aces per set while the Crimson as a team rank 36th (0.73).
Classmate Kyle Rehkemper also looks to enter the Crimson service aces annals this season as the middle blocker has accumulated 45 to need five to break the list.
Seven active players have already made a place for themselves in Harvard's record book. Chris Gibbons owns the top spot for career digs (597) and digs in a season when the senior notched 219 in 2013. Nick Madden, Kyle Rehkemper and Caleb Zimmick are moving up in the ranks in the Crimson's all-time career block assist list. Madden sits third with 179, Rehkemper's 153 lands at fifth, while Zimmick ranks sixth with 151.
Related Link: Men's Volleyball Record Book
Setting it Up
Nick Bendell has served as the Crimson's primary setter in his first collegiate campaign. Bendell has dished out 116 assists for an average of 8.92 aps, which lands sixth in the EIVA.
The White Brothers
Casey and DJ White have been instrumental to the Crimson on both sides of the net thus far this season. The Hermosa Beach, Calif., natives have combined for nearly a third of Harvard's blocks (10-34), digs (35-106) and service aces (3-11). Offensively, the brothers have notched 42.2 percent (68-161) of the Crimson's attack.
And the Award Goes To
DJ White earned EIVA Defensive Player of the week honors on Jan. 27, marking the first defensive accolade for the junior and his third weekly conference award overall. White averaged 2.43 kps, 1.57 dps and totaled three blocks to pace the Crimson's efforts against two top-15 teams last weekend.
Related Link: DJ White Earns EIVA Defensive Player of the Week Honors
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.
Coming off an appearance in the EIVA Tournament championship, Harvard has been picked third in the 2014 EIVA Preseason Poll. The Crimson's third place pick is its highest ever finish in the poll with 23 points.
Defending champion Penn State was chosen to repeat, receiving seven of the eight first-place votes for nine points while Princeton was selected second with a total of 20 points and the one remaining first-place vote. George Mason (32 points), St. Francis (Pa.) (38), NJIT (50), Sacred Heart (52) and Rutgers-Newark (64) rounded out the preseason rankings.
Related Link: Men's Volleyball Tabbed Third in EIVA Preseason Poll
Scouting Sacred Heart
Sacred Heart enters play Friday with a 3-4 overall record after picking up two wins at last weekend's Stevens Tech Tournament. Brad Borsay has led the Pioneers attack with 3.18 kps while Jose Juelle has chipped in 3.00 kps. Will Leclerc (2.33), Enzo Mackenzie (2.23) and Austin Arcala (2.17) have each notched over 2.00 kps with R.J. Uhlir (7.42 aps) handling setting duties. Sam Nelson and Raymond Satagai lead Sacred Heart at the net with 1.00 bps and 0.89 bps, respectively, while Arcala adds to the defensive effort with 1.91 dps.
Inside the Series with the Pioneers
Harvard has rattled off the past four victories over Sacred Heart to hold a 12-7 advantage in the all-time series that dates back to 1993. The Crimson has swept the Pioneers 12 times including the teams' last meeting when Harvard secured the third seed in the 2013 EIVA tournament.
Harvard returns to action Feb. 13-14 as it host Princeton and George Mason at the Malkin Athletic Center.
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.