Harvard Men's Volleyball Gears up for Mid-Week Showdown with Emmanuel College

Harvard Men's Volleyball Gears up for Mid-Week Showdown with Emmanuel College

Junior Lothman and sophomore Madden are big reasons why the Crimson are having its best year since the 1993 season, when Harvard started 12-0. (Gil Talbot) 

The Particulars
The Harvard men's volleyball team (7-2) readies itself for a weekday battle against cross-town foe, Emmanuel College, slated for Wednesday at 7 p.m., at the Malkin Athletic Center.

Scouting the Crimson
The Crimson is coming off another weekend split, as it fell to No. 5 Penn State Friday in three sets, but then upset Saint Francis (Pa.) which entered the match undefeated in conference (3-0), in a three-set sweep.

In the Friday match against the Nittany Lions the Crimson struggled to get traction in its offensive game, as no Harvard player amassed more than seven kills. Freshman DJ White, sophomore Nick Madden and senior Matt Jones all paced the Crimson with seven kills apiece. Junior Rob Lothman dished out 22 assists in the loss.

Harvard next played the team tied with Penn State for first place in the EIVA, Saint Francis. Harvard fans were treated to a much different looking Crimson team, which came out firing right from the first set. Harvard dominated the first stanza dispatching  the Red Flash, 25-12. That momentum carried through the rest of the way as the Crimson took sets two and three, 25-21, and 25-16, respectively. Harvard was led by Jones, who recorded 11 kills, while White and Madden tallied six apiece. Freshman Caleb Zimmick had his best day in the middle, as he recorded a season-high nine blocks.

Jones paces the Crimson in kills per set with 4.23, while Lothman is the assists leader with 9.60 assists per set, and Zimmick tops Harvard in blocks with 1.23 per stanza.  

Scouting the Saints
Emmanuel enters the contest coming off a 3-1 loss to Rivier. The Saints stand at 4-3 on the year and are 3-2 in their last five matches. Emmanuel also holds a 0-3 record against opponents that Harvard has already played this year, having gone 0-2 against Springfield and 0-1 against Rivier. Ashanti Jackson paces the Saints with a 3.72 average on kills per set. Nick Updike leads the team in assists averaging 9.24 per set, while Tom McCaffrey has served as the team's leading blocker averaging 1.00 blocks per stanza during the campaign. This will be the second time Harvard and the Saints have played each other, as the Crimson defeated Emmanuel 3-0 in 2010, for a 1-0 advantage in the all-time series.

Die Hard
Harvard hasn't found itself in the loss column too many times so far in 2012. While the Crimson has stumbled against EIVA opponents George Mason and Penn State, it has had success against the rest of it slate. The Crimson (7-2) is tied for the second-least amount of losses with UCLA (14-2) and Stanford (11-2). of losses in Division I volleyball with two. Penn State leads the country with only one loss so far this season.

One of the Nation's Best
Harvard has been one of the nation's most successful teams in 2012, and the statistics show it. The Crimson ranks second in the country in kills per set with 13.70, while they are sixth in aces per set with 1.47. The Crimson has also tallied the second-best hitting percentage in the EIVA as well as being ranked fifth in the nation with a .344 mark. Senior Matt Jones has been one of the nation's top performers as he sits second in kills per set, averaging 4.23. Freshman Caleb Zimmick also ranks in the top 10 in blocks per set, coming in 10th, 1.23. Freshman DJ White ranks amongst the country's elite, sporting a .381 hitting percentage, putting him eighth.

Fast Start
The Crimson stands at a 7-2 record. This is its best start since the 1993 season when the team opened 12-0 before suffering its first loss.