Balanced Attack Leads Men’s Volleyball Past Rutgers-Newark in Three, 3-0

The Crimson match its best start in EIVA play with five wins (photo courtesy Zack Williamson).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The Harvard men's volleyball team received a well balanced attack to cruise to a straight set victory over Rutgers-Newark Friday night at the Malkin Athletic Center. The win came by set scores of 25-19, 25-15, and 25-14. 

With the win, Harvard matches its best start through six EIVA contests as the Crimson move to 5-1 in conference play and 7-4 overall while Rutgers-Newark slips to 4-7 and 0-5 in the league. 

Harvard's attack saw nine different players record a point to combine for a season-best .405 hitting percentage, which marks the highest percentage since hitting .432 in a 3-0 win at Sacred Heart April 20, 2013. Seniors Will Chambers and Nick Madden contributed nine-kill efforts each to lead the attack. Chambers hit .727 on the night while classmate Kyle Rehkemper, how chipped in six kills, on a .857 hitting clip. Freshman Nick Bendell and senior Michael Owen split the setting duties, dishing out 19 assists and 16 assists, respectively. 

The Crimson's offense also benefited from eight service aces, including three from sophomore Branden Clemens and two from Madden to move him into a tie for tenth place with Rehkemper on the program's career list at 51.   

Senior Chris Gibbons paced the defense with seven digs as Rutgers-Newark was held to a .116 hitting percentage. Chambers and Rehkemper notched three blocks each to lead the defense at the net. 

The Scarlet Raiders were led offensively by sophomore Cody Chidsey who totaled eight kills on a .615 hitting clip. 

After trading points to open the set, Harvard rattled off five unanswered points behind Madden at the service line to take an 8-5 lead early in the first set. Rutgers-Newark notched three straight points to keep it two-point set before the teams swapped points to make it a 16-13 frame at the midway point. A Clemens kill followed by three straight points with the sophomore at the service line set up match point for the Crimson, 24-19. Harvard went on to take the first set off a Rutgers-Newark service error, 25-19. 

Knotted at two in the second frame, Harvard jump-started a 10-3 run to force a Rutgers-Newark timeout as the Crimson led, 12-5. Harvard didn't lose momentum out of the break as the Crimson cruised to a 17-11 lead on a kill from Madden. The Crimson scored eight of the final twelve points en route to the 25-15 set victory. 

Harvard hit a phenomenal .750 to run away with its fourth-straight home victory. The Crimson cruised to an early 6-1 advantage that included three kills from Chambers. The Scarlet Raiders used a 7-4 stretch of its own to pull within two, 10-8, but Harvard recorded five consecutive points to pull away with a 15-9 edge and never looked back as a kill by sophomore Alec Schlossman ignited an 8-3 spurt that closed the match, 25-14. 

The Crimson rounds out its first EIVA rotation tomorrow afternoon when it hosts NJIT at the MAC at 4 p.m.