Zimmick has helped the Crimson to 1-0 EIVA record this season (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's volleyball team returns home to host Princeton and George Mason this week as EIVA play continues. The Crimson will first take to the court Thursday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. against the Tigers, and will face the Pioneers Sunday, Feb. 16, at 3 p.m., in the match originally scheduled for Friday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m.
Last Time Out
Harvard opened conference play in resounding fashion Friday, Feb. 7, defeating Sacred Heart in straight sets at the Wiliam H. Pitt Center. The victory came by scores of 25-17, 25-18, 25-19.
Junior DJ White tallied nine kills and a .261 hitting percentage to lead the attack. Freshman Casey White contributed five kills while junior Caleb Zimmick and seniors Nick Madden and Kyle Rehkemper each added three. Nick Bendell handled Harvard's setting duties as the freshman passed out 19 assists.
Seniors Chris Gibbons and Rehkemper were at the forefront of the Crimson's defensive efforts as Sacred Heart was limited to a -.047 hitting percentage, the lowest total for a Harvard opponent this season. Gibbons totaled eight digs on the evening as Rehkemper chipped in six total blocks.
Related Link: Men's Volleyball Routs Sacred Heart in EIVA Opener, 3-0
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, and has since received votes each week.
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. 35 in the NCAA in blocks per set (1.75).
Kyle Rehkemper has posted six total blocks in the past two matches to average 0.82 bps which lands 55th on the national individual list, while Caleb Zimmick (0.76 bps) is tied for 56th.
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 is tied for 27th in the nation with 0.33 aces per set while the Crimson as a team rank 28th (0.94).
Classmate Kyle Rehkemper also looks to enter the Crimson service aces annals this season as the middle blocker matched Madden's of 46.
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 8.44 aps, which lands 25th in the NCAA and fourth in the EVIA, to lead Harvard to a .218 hitting percentage.
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 (14-37), digs (43-131) and service aces (6-17). Offensively, the brothers have notched 44.3 percent (81-183) of the Crimson's attack.
Matches at the MAC
The Crimson has hosted 54 opponents in 106 matches under the roof of the Malkin Athletic Center to boast a 74-32 (.698) all-time mark at home. Harvard's home court advantage includes record-best nine-match home win streak that lasted more than a calendar year between Feb. 18, 2012 to April 5, 2013.
And the Award Goes To
Two Crimson student-athletes have earned EIVA Defensive Player of the Week accolades thus far this season.
DJ White earned the honor after pacing Harvard with 2.43 kps, 1.57 kps and 1.5 bps for the Crimson's efforts against two top-15 teams Jan. 27. Kyle Rehkemper was tabbed defensive player of the week for his 2.00 bps, 1.00 kps, 2.50 points per set and .333 hitting percentage performance in Harvard's EIVA opener against Sacred Heart Feb 7.
DJ White and Rehkemper have been selected for best player over a seven-day stretch three times each.
The Tigers remain in search of their first win and will enter play Thursday with an 0-4 record after dropping five-set matches to both IPFW and Ball State this past weekend. Pat Schwagler has paced the attack with 3.22 kps while sharing the team lead with 1.11 bps with Junior Oboh on the defensive side. Devin Stearns has chipped in 2.89 kps while Chris Kennedy (9.38 aps) has handled the setting duties.
Inside the Series with the Tigers
In a series that began in 1971, Harvard trails Princeton, 14-32. The two programs last met in Cambridge when the Crimson edged the Tigers, 3-2, to secure a spot in the EIVA tournament.
Scouting George Mason
The Patriots have lost two straight matches entering the weekend and stand 4-4 overall. Jack Wilson and Radoslav Popov have paced George Mason's offense with 2.73 kps and 2.57 kps, respectively. Hunter Stevens is hitting at a team and conference-best .430 clip while Popov is second at .329. Pete Cuppernull (9.24 aps) and Jackson Carr (9.22) have split the setting responsibilities. On the defensive side, Dave Lucas has led the Patriots with 2.05 dps as Hunter has added 1.47 bps, the best average in the conference.
Inside the Series with the Patriots
In the EIVA semifinals a year ago, Harvard knocked off George Mason, 3-2, to claim a spot in the championship match for the first time in program history. Despite the win, the Crimson trails the all-time series, 2-7.
Harvard will host its second annual EIVA Rally night Friday, April 4 against Penn State to help raise funds and awareness towards cancer research. The EIVA formed "EIVA Rallies" campaign last year to benefit the Memorial Sloan-Keetering Cancer Center. For more information or to make a donation, please click here.
Seven active players have already made a place for themselves in Harvard's record book. Chris Gibbons owns the top spot for career digs (605) 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 184, Rehkemper's 158 lands at fifth, while Zimmick ranks sixth with 153.
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
Harvard will head back out on the road next week as it travels to Saint Francis (Pa.) Friday, Feb. 21 and No. 12 Penn State, Saturday, Feb. 22.
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.