Harvard Enters Key EIVA Weekend Against George Mason and Princeton

Jansma (left) Chambers (middle) and Jones (right) will have an opportunity this weekend to avenge a loss against George Mason, as the Crimson prepare to take on the Patriots and Princeton this weekend. (Gil Talbot) 

The Particulars
The Harvard men's volleyball team heads out on the road for a two-match weekend at George Mason and Princeton. Those matches are slated for Friday night at 7 p.m. and Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m., respectively.

Scouting the Crimson
The Crimson wrapped up its seven-game homestand last week, with wins over Emmanuel College on Wednesday and against Sacred Heart on Saturday. The Crimson took down both teams in three sets giving Harvard six straight set victories on the year. Senior Matt Jones recorded 14 kills against the Saints and sophomore Nick Madden recorded the same amount against the Pioneers on Saturday, helping Harvard to improve to 9-2 this season. The Crimson ended its homestand with a 5-2 record, recording wins over Cal Baptist, Princeton, Saint Francis (Pa.), Emmanuel College and Sacred Heart, while falling to George Mason and Penn State. Harvard is currently in fourth-place in the conference with a 3-2 mark against EIVA foes.

Jones paces the Crimson in kills per set with 4.14, while sophomore Rob Lothman is the assists leader with 9.65 assists per set and freshman Caleb Zimmick tops Harvard in blocks with 1.26 per stanza. Sophomore, Chris Gibbons leads the team in digs, averaging 1.79 per set.

Scouting The Patriots
George Mason handed Harvard its first loss of the season when it visited the Malkin Athletic Center back on Feb. 10. Using the offense of Andrew Dentler (16 kills) and Mark Jones (11 kills), the Patriots defeated the Crimson in three sets (25-21, 25-21, 26-24). Harvard's Matt Jones paced the Crimson in kills with 11 while freshman DJ White had eight of his own. With the loss Harvard dropped to 0-4 in the all-time series against George Mason.

The Patriots snapped a five-game losing streak on Monday, defeating Grand Canyon 3-1. Jones recorded 16 kills, while sophomore Pete Cuppernull tallied 40 assists and junior Piotr Dabrowski finished with seven blocks, helping the Patriots to their fifth win of the year (5-10).

Dabrowski has been stellar on defense, ranking seventh nationally and second in the conference with an average of 1.42 blocks per set, while the team itself ranks ninth in the country and second in EIVA with 2.67 blocks per set. Jones leads George Mason on offense, coming in 12th in the country and third in the EIVA with 3.74 kills per set.

Scouting the Tigers
Harvard took down the Princeton Tigers on Feb. 11 in three sets (28-26, 25-23, 25-20) which gave the Crimson its first conference victory of the season. Freshman DJ White had his best game as a member of the Crimson with a season-high 18 kills, and senior Matt Jones followed behind with 16. Princeton was led by Cody Kessel and Will Siroky who had 11 and 10 kills, respectively. With the win Harvard notched its third-straight victory against Princeton, and now sits at 12-31 against its EIVA rival.

The Tigers enter the weekend on a two-game winning streak, downing Saint Francis (Pa.) 3-0 and Rutgers-Newark 3-1 to improve to 4-4 and 3-2 in the EIVA. Much like the Crimson, Princeton has been buoyed by its freshman class of Siroky, Kessel and Tony Ensbury. Kessel and Siroky are first and third on the team in kills averaging 3.69 and 1.90, respectively, while Ensbury paces the Tigers in digs registering 2.03 per set on average.

Die Hard
Another week in the books and another two wins for the Crimson. Harvard hasn't found itself in the loss column many times so far in 2012. While the Crimson stumbled against EIVA opponents George Mason and Penn State earlier in the campaign, it has had success against the rest of it slate. The Crimson (9-2) is tied with UCLA (15-2) for the second-fewest losses in Division I volleyball with two, and holds a winning percentage of 0.818. 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 fourth in the country in kills per set with 13.56, while they are third in aces per set with 1.61. The Crimson has also tallied the second-best hitting percentage in the EIVA as well as being ranked fifth in the nation with a .343 mark. Senior Matt Jones has been one of the nation's top performers as he sits fourth in kills per set, averaging 4.14. Jones is also first in the nation in aces per set, averaging .58. Freshman Caleb Zimmick ranks in the top 10 in blocks per set, coming in ninth, 1.26. Freshman DJ White ranks amongst the country's elite, sporting a .357 hitting percentage, putting him eighth.

Rolling Right Along
The Crimson stands at a 9-2 record. This is its best start since the 1993 season when the team opened 12-0 before suffering its first loss.