Men’s Volleyball Drops Championship Match at 50th Asics Invitational, 3-1

Men’s Volleyball Drops Championship Match at 50th Asics Invitational, 3-1

White led the Crimson's offense with14 kills (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The Harvard men's volleyball team suffered its first loss of the season Saturday night as No. 4 Long Beach State knocked off the Crimson, 3-1, in the championship match of the 50th Asics Invitational at Rob Gymnasium. Set scores were 18-25, 25-20, 19-25, 25-13. 

Junior DJ White and senior Kyle Rehkemper, who earned a spot on the all-tournament team, led the attacked for Harvard (0-1) with 14 and 13 kills, respectively. In his collegiate opener, freshman Nick Bendell notched 42 assists while senior Nick Madden added to the defensive effort with 12 digs and three blocks. Senior Chris Gibbons who tallied nine digs was also named to the all-tournament team following the conclusion of play. 

The 49ers received double-digit kills by seniors Taylor Crabb (19) and Dalton Ammerman (18) who also combined for 18 digs. Classmate Connor Olbright notched 55 assists while sophomore Andrew Sato paced Long Beach's defensive with 14 digs. Senior Jeff Ornee added to the defensive effort with 4 blocks. 

Long Beach (1-0) jumped out to an early 8-4 lead in the first set and continued to stay out in front to eventually go up, 17-12. The Crimson chipped away at the lead and pulled within three, 17-14, but the 49ers used a 6-3 run to pull ahead 23-17 and eventually finish off the set, 25-18. 

After opening the second set by trading points, Harvard earned the advantage with three straight points to take the lead, 10-6. The Crimson added to its lead with five consecutive points to bring the score to 16-9. Harvard remained on top and a block by Caleb Zimmick and Madden gave Harvard the set, 25-20. 

Harvard stayed close with Long Beach through the midway point of the three set before the 49ers pulled away for a 25-19 victory. Back-and-forth action opened the fourth set, but after the score notched 9-7 the 49ers remained out in front to score set point, 25-13. 

The Crimson advanced to the championship match by opening the tournament with a 3-1 record in pool play. Harvard opened the invite with straight set victories over No. 5 Stanford (29-27, 25-20) and Pacific (27-25, 25-19). The Crimson's two-match win streak was snapped by No. 15 Cal Baptist who took the three-set match, 23-25, 25-13, 15-10. In Harvard's pool play finale the Crimson versed the unbeaten host, No. 8 UC Santa Barbara. After dropping the first set, 11-25, Harvard came back to down the Gauchos 25-20, 18-16, to take first in the pool. 

Harvard returns to the Harvard on Jan. 8-9 when the Crimson crosses the border for two matches versus international foe Laval.   

All-Tournament Team
Middle Blocker Kris Johnson – Cal Baptist
Middle Blocker Kyle RehkemperHarvard
Libero Chris Gibbons – Harvard
Opposite Andrew Sellan – IPFW
MVP, Outside Hitter Dalton Ammerman – Long Beach State
Setter Connor Olbright – Long Beach StatE
Outside Hitter  Matt Hanley – UCSB
Middle Blocker Ryan Thompson – UCSB
Opposite Johl Awerkamp – UC San Diego