Brian Baise enters his ninth season as head coach of the Harvard men's volleyball team in 2017. Over eight seasons, he has ushered in an era of unprecedented success for the Crimson.
You need not look further than the 2012 season for evidence of Harvard’s turnaround, as the Baise led Crimson earned the program’s first-ever national ranking and finished the year at No. 15 in the AVCA Coaches Poll. Harvard posted an 18-6 overall record on the year and finished second in the EIVA with a 10-4 conference mark, earning Baise EIVA Bob Sweeney Coach of the Year honors. Additionally, Harvard’s 18 wins were third-most in program history.
The Crimson finished the 2012 campaign ranked seventh in the NCAA in hitting percentage (.298), eighth in win percentage (.750) and 11th in aces per set (1.13). Individually, Senior Matt Jones ’12 ranked ninth in kills (3.38) and aces (0.42), while sophomore Chris Gibbons ’14 was eighth in digs (2.47). Harvard also posted its first win over a ranked opponent under Baise with a 3-1 defeat of then-No. 12 Cal State Northridge.
Three Crimson earned All-EIVA honors as a result of the team’s success, including Jones (first team), freshman DJ White ’15 (first team) and junior Rob Lothman ’13 (second team). Jones, meanwhile, caped his career off as the program’s all-time leader in kills (1,218), digs (482) and aces (97), while also ranking in the program’s top 10 for career blocks, block assists and solo blocks.
In 2013, Baise and the Crimson continued on the road to success earning a national ranking on Feb. 25 at No. 14 in the AVCA Poll. Harvard finished second at the EIVA postseason tournament and posted its third 18-win season that included the program's first defeat of EIVA leader Penn State, 3-0, Feb. 15 and second victory over a ranked opponent under Baise.
As a result of the team's success in 2013, four Crimson earned All-EIVA accolades, the most since the 1993 squad, including White (first team), classmate Caleb Zimmick (second team), senior Rob Lothman (second team) and junior Kyle Rehkemper (second team). Lothman capped off his campaign in Cambridge as Harvard's all-time leader in assists (3,094), while White and Zimmick moved among the program's top 10 in five different statistical categories as sophomores.
Harvard earned multiple program-bests in 2014 including its highest AVCA national ranking at No. 13 Jan. 6. After posting the most EIVA wins in program history with an 11-3 mark, another record was set as five Crimson garnered All-EIVA accolades. White, who picked up his third first team nod, was joined by senior Nick Madden and Zimmick. Rehkemper was named to the second team along with freshman Nick Bendell who also was tabbed to Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Freshmen All-America Team. Along the way to a 15-8 record, the Crimson ranked fourth in the nation in digs per set (10.08) and 13th in hitting percentage (.289). Individually, Zimmick posted the sixth-best hitting percentage (.440) in the country and sat 17th on the blocks list while Chris Gibbons came in at seventh on the nation’s digs list (2.25). Harvard’s five graduating seniors, Will Chambers, Gibbons, Madden, Michael Owen and Rehkemper, each etched their names in the Crimson’s record book.
The Crimson earned a fourth-consecutive trip to the EIVA Championships in 2015, finishing second in conference play at 7-5, and tied the program's all-time highest ranking at No. 13 Feb. 9. Harvard received three selections to the All-EIVA first team in seniors DJ White and Caleb Zimmick and junior Branden Clemens, with Zimmick earning honorable mention All-America honors for the second-straight season. White finished his senior season as the first student-athlete in Harvard history to accumulate 1,000 kills and 500 digs. The Crimson ranked seventh in the country as a team in digs per set (9.66), 11th in hitting percentage (.277), and 12th in blocks per set (2.48).
The successes continued in 2016 as Harvard reached the EIVA Tournament for a fifth-straight year and finished the campaign at 13-11 overall, 9-6 in conference. Harvard earned a straight-set win over then 15th-ranked Saint Francis (PA) on his home court, helping the team to a 7-2 record at the Malkin Athletic Center for the year. The Crimson ranked ninth in the NCAA in hitting percentage (.298), 15th in aces per set (1.31) and 17th in blocks per set (2.19), while Clemens, an All-America honorable mention selection, ranked 18th in kills per set (3.65) and 24th in hitting percentage (.320).
Baise completed his first season at Harvard in 2009, helping lead the Crimson to a tie for first place in the EIVA Hay Division with an 11-8 overall record and a 6-2 conference mark. Two Crimson were named to the EIVA All-Academic Team, while Brady Weissbourd ’09 earned second-team All-EIVA honors.
Following a 5-16, 3-5 Hay showing in 2010, Baise brought in a strong group of freshmen for 2011. The 2011 Crimson squad, with only one senior on the roster and four freshmen that saw significant court time, opened the season with a 6-1 record, tying the best mark to start a season since the 2000 campaign. Harvard would finish the year with a 9-13 overall record and 1-7 in the division.
Prior to coming to Harvard, Baise spent one year as an assistant head coach and one year as the head coach for the club team at the University of California-Berkeley from 1999-2001, leading the Bears to the quarterfinals of the 2000 NIRSA Championships before moving east with his wife, Laurie, who is an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at Tufts.
Baise is a 1995 graduate of Princeton where he earned a degree in English and was a four-year starter for the Tigers. A former two-time Junior Olympic All-American, Baise served as the Tigers' captain and was team MVP as a senior.
Before attending Princeton, Baise was a two-time captain and 1991 California Interscholastic Federation first team selection and CIF 3A state champion at Harvard-Westlake High School. He was a member of the U.S. Junior National Team in 1992.