Harvard Continues Homestand with No. 5 Penn State and Saint Francis (Pa.)

Junior Derek Jansma and the Harvard men's volleyball team is looking to improve on their 1-1 EIVA standing, and will do it against the top-teams in the conference, facing No. 5 Penn State and Saint Francis (Pa.) (Gil Talbot)

The Particulars
The Harvard men's volleyball team (6-1, 1-1) continues its seven-game homestand, hosting the top-two teams in the EIVA, No. 5 Penn State on Friday, and Saint Francis (Pa.) on Saturday. Those matches are slated for 7 p.m. and 4 p.m. respectively.

Scouting the Crimson
The Crimson enter the weekend having faced its first two EIVA tests and got mixed results. In its first match last week, Harvard opened with Geroge Mason. The Crimson played the Patriots close throughout the match but was unable to gain the advantage as George Mason defeated Harvard in three sets. The adept attack of Andrew Dentler (17 kills) and the defense of Pitor Dabroski (eight blocks) was the difference in the game. Senior Matt Jones led the Crimson attack with 11 kills while both sophomore Will Chambers and freshman Caleb Zimmick recorded three blocks to pace the Crimson.

After suffering its first loss of the season, Harvard had little time to recuperate as it had an afternoon showdown against Princeton on Saturday. Harvard came out a much crisper-looking team than the night previous, using the unparalleled efforts of both its freshman sensations DJ White and Zimmick. White set a new season-high in kills with 18, and Zimmick led the team in blocks with four, at one point taking control of the match in the second set recording four kills and three blocks, helping to lead a Crimson comeback to win the set. The Crimson defeated the Tigers 3-0, earning its first conference victory of the season.  

Scouting the Nittany Lions
The No. 5 Nittany Lions sit atop the EIVA standings with a 2-0 conference record and are 8-1 overall. On Feb. 10-11, Penn State recorded wins over conference foes Rutgers-Newark and NJIT. Tom Comfort paced the Nittany Lions with 16 kills, while Peter Russell recorded 14.

Penn State spreads its offense around as it has four players above the 50-kill plateau, with Joe Saunders leading the pack with 83, followed by Nick Goodell who has 61, Peter Russell and his brother Aaron Russell with 53. Edqardo paces the Nittany Lions with 322 assists, while Aaron Russell is the Penn State blocking leader with 35.

Scouting Saint Francis (Pa.)
The Red Flash enters the weekend on a four-game winning streak after going 1-6 through a treacherous schedule, that saw it play three ranked teams. The last time out Saint Francis took down two EIVA foes in NJIT and Rutgers-Newark. Alex Kane and Adam Roche led the way for the Red Flash last Friday against NJIT, and combined for 27 kills, helping Saint Francis to a 3-1 victory. On Saturday, The Red Flash played Rutgers-Newark that saw a close first set win 26-24 which propelled the Red Flash to a three-set sweep, winning the second set 25-13 and the third 25-17. Kane paces Saint Francis with 116 kills while Ryan Williams leads the team in assists with 388. Roche is the defensive leader for the Red Flash, leading the squad in blocks with 54.

One of the Nation's Best
Senior Matt Jones has been one of Harvard's best players throughout his four years as part of the Crimson, but he probably should be in the discussion as one of the nation's premiere volleyball stars. When looking at the NCAA statistical leader board (updated Feb. 13), Jones ranks second in the country in kills per set with 4.54 and aces per set with 0.58 per game. Freshman DJ White also boasts one of the nation's best hitting percentages, sporting a .413 mark which ranks fourth overall in the country.

Hit Parade
Harvard has attacked the ball very well this season and the statistics show it. The Crimson has tallied the second-best hitting percentage in the EIVA as well as being ranked third in the nation with a .360 mark.

Fresh Perspective
The Crimson has looked impressive this year and a large part of that is due to the play of its two freshmen DJ White and Caleb Zimmick. White and Zimmick are third and fourth on the team in kills with 71 and 53, respectively. Zimmick also leads the team in blocks with 28.