The Crimson will face two ranked opponents as it closes its non-conference schedule (photo courtesy Zack Williamson).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's volleyball team will make the trip to the Buckeye State to close its non-conference schedule at No. 13 Ball State and No. 15 Ohio State. The Crimson will visit the Cardinals Sunday, March 16 at 4 p.m., before clashing against the Buckeyes Tuesday, March 18 at 7 p.m.
Scouting No. 13 Ball State
The Cardinals, who play Lees McCrea prior to Sunday's clash with the Crimson, enter the match on a roll, having won six consecutive contests including four in straight sets to hold a 13-5 record. Ball State has been paced by Marcin Niemczewski's 3.52 kps while Mike Scanell contributes 2.38 kps on a .294 hitting clip. Graham McIlvanie and Hiago Garchet have split time at setter, averaging 9.52 aps and 7.80 aps, respectively. On the defensive side, the Cardinals boast the nation's third-best block per set average with 2.97 led by Matt Leske's 1.43 bps. David Vandemeer adds to the defensive effort with a team-best 2.32 dps.
Inside the Series with the Cardinals
Sunday's match marks the first meeting between Harvard and Ball State.
Scouting No. 15 Ohio State
At 8-9 overall, the Buckeyes will visit Long Beach State Friday, March 14 and host Cal State Northridge Saturday, March 15 before meeting Harvard on Tuesday. Andrew Lutza leads Ohio State's attack with 3.32 kps as Michael Henchy adds 2.85 kps. Dris Fuessous chips in 2.56 kps on the nation's third-best hitting percentage, .463. Christy Blough (10.66 aps) and Peter Heinen (9.48 aps) have shared the setting responsibilities. The Buckeyes defense is paced by Shaw Herron's 1.08 bps average with Gabriel Domecus (1.86 dps) and Henchy (1.61 dps) also contributing to the effort.
Inside the Series with the Buckeyes
Harvard and Ohio State will meet for the first time Tuesday.
After a 10-day break, Harvard returns to EIVA action Friday, March 28 when it welcomes Sacred Heart to the Malkin Athletic Center for a 7 p.m. showdown.
Last Time Out
Harvard cruised to a straight set victory over Marymount (Va.) Tuesday night at the Malkin Athletic Center. The victory came by set scores of 25-6, 25-14 and 25-17.
Harvard stretched its home-win streak to six straight matches with the win and moved to 10-5 on the year while Marymount dipped to 6-12 overall.
Bolstered by a career-best 25 assists from senior Michael Owen, the Crimson posted a .448 hitting percentage on the night, its highest of the season and best since hitting .493 in a sweep over Rutgers-Newark April 13, 2013. Freshman Casey White led the way with 13 kills and a .435 hitting clip, while junior Caleb Zimmick added eight kills and hit .898 on the night. Sophomore Alec Schlossman contributed a career-high seven kills, hitting .500.
The trio of Owen, Schlossman and Zimmick were at the forefront of Harvard's defensive efforts as Marymount was limited to a -.093 hitting percentage. Owen and Schlossman turned in seven digs each, while Zimmick posted six blocks.
Where We Stand
At 7-2, Harvard holds a half-match point over third-place Princeton (6-2) to hold onto second in the EIVA standings behind No. 14 Penn State who sits atop the league with a 6-1 conference mark. St. Francis' (Pa.) 4-3 mark is good for fourth while George Mason lands fifth at 5-5. Sacred Heart comes in at sixth with a 2-6 ledger. NJIT (1-6) and Rutgers-Newark (0-6) round out the standings at seventh and eighth, respectively.
The Crimson started EIVA play at 6-1 for the first time in program history. With the sweep of Rutgers-Newark and NJIT, Harvard displaced its prior record to start league action, 5-2, in 2012 en route to a 10-4 EIVA record and second place regular-season finish.
Rank and File
After knocking off two ranked opponents in pool play at the Asics Invitational Jan. 3, Harvard entered the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division I-II poll at a program-best 13th Jan. 6. The Crimson remained in the national mix for three-straight weeks, and has since received votes each week.
Related Link: AVCA Division I-II National Poll
Harvard will host its second annual EIVA Rally Night Friday, April 4 against Penn State to help raise funds and awareness towards cancer research. The EIVA formed the "EIVA Rallies" campaign last year to benefit the Memorial Sloan-Keetering Cancer Center. For more information or to make a donation, please click here.
Matches at the MAC
The Crimson has hosted 55 opponents in 112 matches under the roof of the Malkin Athletic Center to boast a 80-32 (.714) all-time mark at Home. Harvard's home court advantage includes a record-best nine-match win streak at that lasted more than a calendar year between Feb. 18, 2012 to April 5, 2013. Currently the Crimson has won six-straight in the friendly confines of the MAC.
DJ White has scored 147 kills this season, including a season-best 18 against NJIT March 1. The junior's team-high 3.00 kps is the 10th best in the conference and tied for 42nd in the nation. As a team, Harvard notches the NCAA's No. 30 kps average with 11.49.
Harvard protected the net against Concordia, posting 21 total blocks, a season high and the most by a Crimson squad since matching that number in a 3-2 win over Princeton April 5, 2011. Currently, Harvard ranks No. 28 in the NCAA in blocks per set (2.15). On the individual list, Caleb Zimmick (1.06 bps) sits tied for 23rd.
Harvard has received three double-double efforts this season. Nick Madden registered a double-double performance at St. Francis (Pa.) (14 kills, 13 digs) Feb.21 and Princeton (11 kills, 10 digs) March 8. Caleb Zimmick poured in 13 kills and 12 blocks for the first double-double of his career against Concordia Feb. 25. Six current Crimson have notched a double-double in their career with Madden leading the way with six.
The White Brothers
Casey and DJ White have been instrumental to the Crimson on both sides of the net thus far this season. The Hermosa Beach, Calif., natives have combined for nearly one-third third of Harvard's blocks (33-118), digs (142-519) and service aces (18-55). Offensively, the brothers have notched 41.9 percent (265-632) of the Crimson's attack.
Setting it Up
Nick Bendell has served as the Crimson's primary setter in his first collegiate campaign. Bendell has dished out 9.24 aps, which lands 24th in the NCAA and fifth in the EIVA, to lead Harvard to the nation's 20th-best hitting percentage (.269).
Serving Up Aces
Senior Nick Madden has turned in a total of 13 aces this season, bringing his career total to 53, which puts him tenth on Harvard's career list. Currently the Crimson's 1.02 aces per set ranks 26th in the NCAA. Classmate Kyle Rehkemper looks to enter the Crimson aces annals as the middle blocker has totaled 52.
Casey White has been named to Off the Block's National Freshman of the Week honorable mention list twice this season. The outside hitter picked up his first accolade Feb. 17 after helping the Crimson to a 2-0 weekend by averaging 2.75 kps and 1.00 dps against Princeton and George Mason. The Hermosa Beach, Calif., native earned his second honorable mention nod March 3 after posting 2.25 kps, 1.13 dps and 0.25 bps in a 3-0 week for Harvard versus Concordia, Rutgers-Newark and NJIT.
Related Link: Off the Block
And the Award Goes To
Three Crimson student-athletes have earned EIVA Defensive Player of the Week accolades thus far this season.
DJ White earned the honor after pacing Harvard with 2.43 kps, 1.57 dps and 1.5 bps for the Crimson's efforts against two top-15 teams Jan. 27. Kyle Rehkemper was tabbed defensive player of the week for his 2.00 bps, 1.00 kps, 2.50 points per set and .333 hitting percentage performance in Harvard's EIVA opener against Sacred Heart Feb 7. Nick Madden picked up his first weekly award after posting 2.13 kps, 2.39 dps and .500 bps in a 1-1 week for the Crimson March 10.
DJ White and Rehkemper have been selected for best player over a seven-day stretch three times each.
Eight active players have already made a place for themselves in Harvard's record book. Chris Gibbons owns the top spot for career digs (705) while Will Chambers' .433 hitting percentage sits atop the career list. Nick Madden finds himself on five of the Crimson's career annals; third in block assists (197), tied for fourth in kills (770), fifth in total blocks (217) and 10th in aces (53). DJ White etched his name on four lists as the junior holds the seventh best hitting percentage (.307) and total kills (633) and eighth-best kps (2.96) and total digs 316. Kyle Rehkemper and Caleb Zimmick rank in the top-10 on three lists each. Rehkemper sits fifth in block assists (181), seventh in total blocks (202) and eighth hitting percentage (.287). Zimmick lands fourth on each of the block lists with 33 solo blocks, 190 block assists and 223 total blocks. Michael Owen's 127 block assists and 139 total blocks are good for seventh and 10th, respectively, while Nick Bendell's 462 assists land eighth.
Related Link: Men's Volleyball Record Book
Seniors Chris Gibbons and Kyle Rehkemper earned spots on the 50th Asics Invitational All-Tournament team after helping Harvard down two ranked opponents – then-No. 5 Stanford and then-No. 8 UCSB – to reach the championship round of the invite. Rehkemper contributed to the Crimson's offense with 13 kills and a .792 hitting percentage while Gibbons registered nine digs.
Coming off an appearance in the EIVA Tournament championship, Harvard was been picked third in the 2014 EIVA Preseason Poll. The Crimson's third place pick is its highest ever finish in the poll with 23 points.
Defending champion Penn State was chosen to repeat, receiving seven of the eight first-place votes for nine points, while Princeton was selected second with a total of 20 points and the one remaining first-place vote. George Mason (32 points), St. Francis (Pa.) (38), NJIT (50), Sacred Heart (52) and Rutgers-Newark (64) rounded out the preseason rankings.
Related Link: Men's Volleyball Tabbed Third in EIVA Preseason Poll
Ivy League Digital Network
For the first time ever, each of Harvard's 11 home matches will be streamed in HD quality featuring a live scoreboard, new graphics package and play-by-play commentary through the Ivy League Digital Network. Subscribers to the network can watch matches both live and on-demand at their convenience, and will have access to live and on-demand content for all Harvard athletics events throughout the duration of their subscription.