Harvard Makes First Playoff Appearance in Four Years at George Mason

Harvard Makes First Playoff Appearance in Four Years at George Mason

The Particulars
The Harvard men's volleyball team will begin EIVA playoff action Wednesday at 7 p.m., as the eighth-seeded Crimson heads to Fairfax, Va., to take on No. 5 seed George Mason at the Field House.

2009 EIVA Playoff Schedule
April 22, First Round, 7 p.m., Campus sites
No. 7 Rutgers-Newark at No. 6 Princeton
No. 8 Harvard at No. 5 George Mason

April 25, Quarterfinals 7 p.m., Campus sites
Winner of 7/6 at No. 3 Saint Francis
Winner of 8/5 at No. 4 Springfield

April 30, Semifinals 4:30 and 7:30 p.m., Rec Hall, University Park, Pa.
Winner of 7/6/3 vs. No. 2 Juniata
Winner of 8/5/4 at No. 1 Penn State

May 2 Championship, 7 p.m., Rec Hall, University Park, Pa.
Winner of 7/6/3/2 vs. Winner of 8/5/4/1

Last Time Out
Rutgers-Newark hit .337 for the match as the Scarlet Raiders defeated Harvard, 3-0, Friday in Newark for a share of the Hay Division title. Rutgers-Newark won, 30-28, 30-25, 30-23, to clinch the No. 7 seed in the EIVA playoffs as the teams split their two meetings this season.

Brady Weissbourd and Matt Jones each tallied nine kills to lead Harvard (11-7, 6-2 EIVA Hay Division), which saw its five-match win streak snapped. The Crimson hit only .198 for the contest, its lowest percentage in the past six matches. Weissbourd also posted a team-high six digs, while junior Soren Rosier had four blocks. Junior Gil Weintraub handed out 26 assists.

Last Time in the EIVA Tournament
Harvard last played in the EIVA playoffs April 23, 2005, when the Crimson fell to No. 3 Penn State, 3-0, in the quarterfinals in State College, Pa. Seamus McKiernan '06 led all players with 14 kills, but the Lions hit .477 as they won, 30-17, 30-23, 30-15.

Scouting the Crimson
Harvard saw its five-match win streak snapped at Rutgers-Newark, but the Crimson has still won eight of its last 10 matches. Harvard finished the year 3-5 on the road while sporting an 8-2 record at home. The Crimson has won the last seven matches that have reached the fourth set after going 2-8 in that category in 2008. After starting off the year by winning 13 of the first 33 sets, the team has earned the victory in 24 of the last 38 sets.

Brady Weissbourd ranks third in the EIVA and seventh in the nation with 5.18 kills per set, as well as second in the EIVA and fourth in the country with 0.54 service aces.  Weissbourd stands fourth in the conference and 15th in the nation with 1.35 blocks and ranks 25th nationally with a .345 hitting percentage. Weissbourd failed to reach double digits in kills against Rutgers-Newark for only the third time all season and the ninth time since the beginning of his sophomore season.

Gil Weintraub stands fourth in the league and 15th in the nation in assists with 12.20 per set. Matt Jones ranks second on the team with 3.06 kills per set, while Erik Kuld sits first on the team in digs (1.58) and third in kills (2.76) as well as 18th in the country in service aces (0.37). Jeff Nathan stands second with 1.50 digs per set, while freshman Dan Schreff has contributed 1.83 digs in limited action.

Harvard ranks sixth in the nation with an average of 1.51 service aces per set and 12th in winning percentage (.611). The Crimson owns a 107-81 advantage over opponents in service aces and is averaging the same number of blocks, 2.54 per set, as its foes. Teams have posted 17.87 points per set against Harvard, 0.07 fewer points per set than the Crimson.

Having a Career Day
Brady Weissbourd tied his career high with five service aces against Sacred Heart April 11. Weissbourd, Erik Kuld and Gil Weintraub each set their career high in digs in the March 29 match against Sacred Heart, as Weissbourd and Kuld each had 15 and Weintraub posted 14. Weissbourd also set a career high in blocks with 12 against NYU March 28, after hitting a career-high .667 with five service aces against MIT the previous match.

Reaching For That Milestone
Matt Jones knocked down his 200th recorded kill, Gil Weintraub went over 1,500 assists and Brady Weissbourd posted his 900th career kill against Sacred Heart April 11. Weintraub and Jeff Nathan are six and 10 digs away, respectively, from 200 for their careers, while Weissbourd is 11 blocks from 300.

Scouting George Mason
The Patriots (12-15, 5-7 EIVA Tait Division) have lost 10 of their past 14 matches as the team sports a 12-15 overall record. George Mason fell to Princeton, 3-1, but defeated NJIT, 3-0, last weekend. The Patriots have beaten Tait Division foes NJIT and Springfield twice and Princeton once in 2009. George Mason has won all three meetings with Harvard.

George Mason is led offensively by Kyle Gramit, who ranks fourth in the EIVA with 4.76 kills per set and third with 0.51 service aces. Ryan Kwiatkowski and Brandon Joyner have split time at the setter position, averaging 9.14 and 7.31 assists per set, respectively. Eric Lucas paces the team and is fourth in the league with 2.84 digs per set, while Brandon McLaughlin (1.45 blocks per set), Lance Rogers (1.32) and Erik Lanham (1.19) all rank in the top 10 in the EIVA in blocks.

Up Next
With a win, Harvard would advance to the quarterfinals of the EIVA playoffs Saturday at Springfield at 7 p.m.