Men's Volleyball Set for Hall of Fame Morgan Classic

Men's Volleyball Set for Hall of Fame Morgan Classic

Harvard will vie for the Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic Championships this weekend (Gil Talbot).

The Storyline
The Harvard men's volleyball team will be in action this weekend as it competes in the Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic in Springfield, Mass. The Crimson will first take to the court Friday, Feb. 1 at 6 p.m. against Loyola (Ill.) and will then face either Springfield of Juniata Saturday, Feb. 2.

A live video stream will be available for both matches by clicking here. Live stats will be available by clicking here.

Last Time Out
The Harvard men's volleyball team took No. 6 Penn State to five sets for the second year in a row, but just as they did in the last meeting between the teams the Nittany Lions came out on top, 3-2. Both offenses struggled as the Crimson hit just .062 against a .047 performance by the Nittany Lions. The defenses, however, combined for 28.5 blocks including 17.5 from Harvard, the team's highest total over the last three seasons.

Related Link: Men's Volleyball Forces No. 6 Penn State to Five Sets But Falls Short

Around the League
Harvard is currently in second place of the EIVA standings with a 1-1 conference mark and a 3-1 overall record. The Crimson leads the EIVA with 3.14 bps and ranks third in digs at 9.29 dps. Harvard's 11.14 kps are fifth best in the league as is its .211 hitting percentage.

Individually, Caleb Zimmick and Kyle Rehkemper rank fourth and fifth, respectively, with 1.36 bps and 1.33 bps. Chris Gibbons is fifth among liberos at 2.29 dps while Rob Lothman ranks seventh with 8.79 aps.

Block Party
The Crimson recorded 17.5 blocks at No. 6 Penn State, the team's highest total over the last three seasons. Caleb Zimmick led the way with eight total blocks as Michael Owen and Kyle Rehkemper each turned in seven. Nick Madden and Rob Lothman also got in on the action, registering six blocks and four blocks, respectively.

Harvard's season high for blocks in 2012 was 17 at Rutgers-Newark.

Quick Start
Harvard swept Stevens, NYU and St. Francis (Pa.) to open the year, marking the third straight season that the Crimson has started the year with at least two victories. Harvard's three straight-set victories, meanwhile, had not been accomplished since 1993 when the squad posted four sweeps in its first four matches.

Award Winner
DJ White was named the EIVA Offensive Player of the Week Jan. 22 after leading Harvard to a pair of sweeps to open the season. White averaged 4.67 kps, 1.67 dps and 1.00 bps while hitting .420 on the weekend, including a 19-kill performance at Stevens. The sophomore now boasts two career EIVA Offensive Player of the Week honors after also receiving the award once as a freshman.

Catch the Crimson in 2012
Harvard will host 11 home matches at the Malkin Athletic Center this season and each will be streamed live online through Fans can also watch each match On Demand approximately two hours after completion. One-year subscriptions are available for $49.95 and allow access to every home event streamed by the Crimson, including football, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's hockey and men's soccer. For more information or to sign up today, click here.

Banner Year
Harvard is coming off one of the most successful seasons in program history, as the Crimson earned its first-ever national ranking in 2012 and finished the year at No. 15 in the AVCA Coaches Poll. Harvard posted an 18-6 overall record and took second in the EIVA with a 10-4 conference mark, with the team's 18 wins representing the third-highest total ever.

Head coach Brian Baise was tabbed as the EIVA Coach of the Year as a result of the squad's success while Matt Jones, DJ White and Rob Lothman all earned all-conference accolades.

Welcome Back
The Crimson returns 10 of 12 letterwinners from last year's squad which ranked seventh in the NCAA in hitting percentage (.298), 11th in aces (1.13), 14th in kills (12.49) and 15th in digs (8.87). Headlining the group of returners is outside hitter DJ White who competed for the US Men's Junior National Team this summer after earning All-EIVA first team honors as a freshman. All-EIVA second team selection Rob Lothman is back as the team's primary setter along with Nick Madden who ranked second on the squad with 3.01 kps in 2012. Caleb Zimmick, who led the team with a .409 hitting percentage and a 1.20 bps average before his season was cut short due to an injury, will also be back on court for his sophomore season.

Fresh Faces
Harvard has welcomed three newcomers to the roster for 2013; Branden Clemens, Alec Schlossman and Alister Bent. Clemens, a 6'7" opposite hitter from Carmel, Ind., joins the squad after winning back-to-back state championships while Alec Schlossman, a 6'3" outside hitter from Canyon Country, Calif., comes to Cambridge as a three-time All-Foothill League first team selection. Bent, a 5'7" libero from Weston, Fla., was a three-year letterwinner and earned Miami Herald All-County Honorable Mention status as a senior.

Captaining the Ship
Rob Lothman and Nick Madden will serve as the team's captains for the 2013 season. Lothman was named to the All-EIVA second team in 2012 after setting a career-high with 888 assists, the fifth-best single-season total in program history. Lothman directed the Crimson attack to a .298 hitting percentage, which ranked seventh in the NCAA, while his 10.1 assists per set were good for 18th in the nation. Madden, meanwhile, started all 24 matches last year for the Crimson and ranked second on the squad in kills (3.01) and points (3.6). His 268 kills in 2012 were good for eighth in program history while his 147 career blocks rank his sixth all-time.

Preseason Poll
Harvard was chosen fourth in the EIVA preseason poll with a total of 31 points. Penn State, the defending conference champion, was tabbed first with six first-place votes while George Mason and Princeton were chosen second and third, respectively, with one first-place vote apiece. Rounding out the eight-team field in order of predicted finish are St. Francis (Pa.), NJIT, Sacred Heart and Rutgers-Newark.

Bringing Home the Gold
DJ White started all four sets at outside hitter as the United States Men's Junior National Team defeated Canada to claim gold at the 2012 NORCECA Men's Junior Continental Championship (U-21). The Crimson sophomore started every set he played in; including each set in the semi-finals against Puerto Rico and finals, and the United States won all five of its matches in the six-day tournament to earn a trip to the 2013 FIVB Men's Volleyball Junior World Championship.

White ranked fourth overall in kills and hit .492 in the tournament. He recorded nine kills and three digs in the championship game.

Playing in the Pros
After rewriting the Crimson record books in his four seasons in Cambridge, former Harvard men's volleyball outside hitter Matt Jones '12 has signed a one-year contract with Volley Bartreng, a professional volleyball team in Luxembourg. The La Jolla, Calif., native will be the team's starting outside hitter during its 2012-13 campaign.  

In his senior season, Jones was named to the All-EIVA first team after becoming the Crimson's all-time leader in kills (1,218), digs (452) and service aces (97). His 345 kills in 2012 were good for second-most in a single season, behind only the 391 kills Brady Weissbourd '09 tallied in 2009.