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Senior Weekend for Men's Volleyball Brings Princeton, George Mason in Critical EIVA Matches

Harvard men's volleyball meets Princeton and George Mason in conference play this weekend (photo courtesy Ben Barnhart).

The Storyline
Trailing this weekend's opponents by two games in the EIVA standings, the Harvard men's volleyball team puts an 11-match home win-streak on the line as it looks to improve its postseason position when Princeton and George Mason come to the Malkin Athletic Center this weekend. The Crimson (13-7, 6-3 EIVA) hosts Princeton (10-7, 8-3) on Friday night at 7 p.m., before taking on George Mason (12-11, 8-3 EIVA) on Saturday at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 6, is Senior Day for the Crimson. Prior to the match versus the Patriots, Harvard will recognize seniors Derek Jansma, Rob Lothman and Dan Martin.

Follow the Action
A live video stream will be available through GoCrimson.com by clicking video. Live stats will also be available.

Last Time Out
The Harvard men's volleyball team captured its 11th straight home victory with a straight-set defeat of Erskine College, 25-20, 25-23, 25-19, on Saturday afternoon in the Malkin Athletic Center. The Crimson used a .226 hitting percentage and nine blocks to top the Flying Fleet (13-14) and improve to 13-7 on the year. Sophomore DJ White led Harvard with 10 kills on .278 hitting and two aces, while junior Nick Madden delivered eight kills, a match-high six blocks and team-best four digs. Senior setter Rob Lothman distributed 26 assists and matched Madden's four digs.

Related Link: Men's Volleyball Sweeps Erskine, Wins 11th Straight at Home

Around the League
Harvard is currently in fourth place of the EIVA standings with a 6-3 conference mark and a 13-7 overall record. Prior to matches played on Thursday, the Crimson is second in the conference in hitting percentage (.256) and aces (1.22), fourth in assists (11.10), kills (11.87) and blocks (2.39), and ranks sixth in digs (8.68).

DJ White, Caleb Zimmick rank second and third in the league with hitting percentages of .328 and .322, respectively, while Branden Clemens is 10th with a .274 attack. White also ranks seventh in the EIVA for kills per set at 3.29 and is joined by Nick Madden with 2.89 kps for 10th in the stat column. Chris Gibbons comes in fourth among liberos with 2.49 dps, while Rob Lothman is fourth among EIVA setters with 9.95 aps. Zimmick also boasts the third best blocking average at 1.18 bps with Kyle Rehkemper chipping in 0.91 bps, seventh in the conference. At the service line, Rehkemper rates fifth in the EIVA for aces per set average (0.32), while Michael Owen is seventh at 0.28.

National Scene
Men's volleyball national ranking summary through games played March 31.

 
 

 

Scouting Princeton
The Tigers split last weekend's matches, suffering a 3-1 loss to No. 13 Penn State at home after picking up a three-set win over Saint Francis. At 8-3 in EIVA play, Princeton is tied with George Mason for the second best record in the league entering the weekend.

Princeton leads the EIVA with the sixth best blocks per set average (2.69) in the nation and ranks third in four league stat columns, kps (12.17), hitting percentage (.253), assists per set (11.45) and aces per set (1.02). The Tigers' 8.32 digs per set is worst in the conference. Princeton is hitting .253 on the year, but .281 in its last three matches.

Individually, Pat Schwagler is ranked seventh in the nation for points per set (4.70), ninth for kps (3.84) and 14th in aces per set (0.37). Davis Waddell ranks 18th in the NCAA for assists (9.98) and Tony Ensbury's 2.14 digs are 25th most in the country. Will Siroky (1.09) and Michael Dye (1.05) lead the team in bps.

Harvard fell to Princeton, 3-1, the first time the two teams met this season and now trails the all-time series, 32-13.

Earlier Meeting: No. 14 Men's Volleyball Drops Second Straight Match at Princeton, 3-1

Scouting George Mason
The Patriots also split last weekend's matches, suffering a 3-2 loss to No. 13 Penn State at home after squeezing out a five-set win over Saint Francis. At 8-3 in EIVA play, George Mason is tied with Princeton for the second best record in the league entering the weekend. The Patriots travel to Sacred Heart on Friday night, before making their way up to Cambridge.

George Mason leads the EIVA with the third best digs per set average (10.17) in the nation and ranks second in three league statistics, kills per set (12.44), assists per set (11.70) and blocks per set (2.51). The Patriots are hitting .229 on the year, but .214 in its last three matches.

Both Max McFarland's 2.55 dps and Piotr Dabrowski's 1.25 bps are ninth best in the nation. Mark Jones paces the Patriot's lineup with 3.38 kps, while most of the offense flows through Javier Perez (10.30 aps). Jones is also producing 0.45 aces per set, sixth best in the country.

After falling in the earlier meeting this season, Harvard trails the all-time series with George Mason, 6-1.

Earlier Meeting: No. 14 Men's Volleyball Falls in Straight Sets at George Mason

Approaching the Postseason
With two weeks remaining of the regular season, Harvard is in EIVA Tournament with the fourth and final spot. However, the Crimson can improve its standing as all five of its remaining league matches come against teams immediately above or below the Crimson in the standings, including the first four at home. Harvard trails Princeton and George Mason by two games entering this weekend.

Records are Meant to be Broken
Two Harvard men's volleyball records were broken within four days of each other. Junior Chris Gibbons produced 30 digs against UC Santa Barbara on March 15 to surpass Matt Jones '12 452 career digs. With 523 scoops, Gibbons is the only player in program history to surpass the 500 dig plateau.

At Concordia on March 19, senior Rob Lothman dished out 27 assists to overtake Mike Bookman '03 in career assists. Bookman amassed 2,765 assists while playing for the Crimson. Lothman, whose freshman and junior single-season totals rate among the best in program history, has tallied 2,803 assists at Harvard.

Keep on Blockin'
Middle blocker Caleb Zimmick registered a career-high nine blocks against Sacred Heart on March 13. The outing marked the third time this season that Zimmick has recorded seven or more blocks and the 12th time in the sophomore's young career with at least five blocks in a match.

Winning Ways
Harvard won six straight matches from Feb. 2 to Feb. 23, it longest streak since winning 13 in a row in 2005. During that span, the Crimson won four matches in straight sets, also matching the 2005 team's streak of four consecutive sweeps.

National News
Harvard has fallen from the AVCA Division I-II Poll after being ranked in consecutive weeks from Feb. 25 to March 4. The Crimson reached as high as No. 14, the highest ranking in program history.

Taking Home the Hardware
Sophomore DJ White recently earned a pair of honors, being named both the AVCA Division I-II National Player of the Week and EIVA Offensive Player of the Week. The praise comes after White averaged 4.17 kills per set and hit .477 as the Crimson knocked off No. 9 Penn State and St. Francis (Pa.) in straight sets.

White is the first member of the Crimson to earn the national recognition. He has been named the conference's offensive player of the week twice this season and has earned the distinction three times in his career.

Slump Busters
The Crimson ended a 51-match drought for conference opponents versus Penn State when it upset the ninth-ranked Nittany Lions Feb. 15, 3-0. Penn State's last loss to an EIVA conference foe came on March 7, 2008 to George Mason, 3-1.

Ranked Wins
Harvard's 3-0 victory over then ninth-ranked Penn State marked the team's second win over a ranked opponent in as many years. Last season, the Crimson knocked off No. 12 Call State Northridge, 3-1, to record the program's first victory against a ranked team under head coach Brian Baise.

MAC Attack
Harvard is 22-6 in the friendly confines of the Malkin Athletic Center since the start of 2011 including a 6-0 mark this year.  The Crimson has won 11 straight matches at home dating back to last season and has captured each of its last three home openers.

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.

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 GoCrimson.com. 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.

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.

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.