Men’s Volleyball Can’t Outlast No. 13 Ball State, Falls in Five

Men’s Volleyball Can’t Outlast No. 13 Ball State, Falls in Five

DJ White's tallied his second career double-double in the setback (photo courtesy Zack Williamson).

MUNCIE, Ind. – The Harvard men's volleyball team took a two sets to one lead against No. 13 Ball State, but the Cardinals rallied to drop the Crimson 3-2 Sunday afternoon at the Worthen Arena. The setback came by set scores of 25-18, 24-26, 25-20, 19-25 and 14-16. 

DJ White poured in a career-best 26 kills to lead a quartet of Crimson (10-6) with double-digit kill efforts. The junior also posted 10 digs for the second double-double of his career. DJ White's 26 kills is the most by a Harvard player since Nick Madden tallied 27 in a 3-1 win at Cal-Baptist, March 13, 2012. Madden contributed his seventh career double-double with 17 kills and 16 digs while junior Caleb Zimmick scored a career-high 16 kills, hitting .520 on the night. Freshman Casey White's 12 kills to round  out the Crimson's foursome with double-digit kills. Classmate Nick Bendell handed out a career-best 65 assists to lead Harvard to a .335 hitting clip on the afternoon. At the net, Zimmick notched six blocks and senior Chris Gibbons added 19 digs to the defensive effort.   

Marcin' Niemczewski's 17-kill, 10-dig, double-double effort paced Ball State's (15-5) attack while Matt Leske and Matt Sutherland chipped in 14 kills and 13 kills, respectively. 

Harvard wasted no time to open the first frame with a 7-3 run that featured two kills from C. White and Zimmick. The Crimson continued to roll, using a 6-2 spurt to hold a 13-7 edge at the midway point, forcing a Cardinals timeout. Following the break Harvard didn't back down as the team rattled off another 6-3 stretch to push the score to 19-10. Ball State didn't go down without a fight, however, as the hosts used a 6-3 run of its own to pull within six, 23-17. Madden scored two of his six set kills to put the frame away, 25-18. 

Back-and-forth action dominated the second set which featured 14 lead changes and three ties. Neither team could build a run, but three kill from DJ White and a Zimmick kill gave Harvard a 21-20 lead down the stretch. The squads continued to trade points as Niemczewski regained the lead for the Cardinals with a kill, 23-22. DJ White tied the score for the final time at 24, before Ball State coupled back-to-back points to take the set, 26-24. 

The third set opened up with Harvard on-top 12-6. Three kills and an ace from Madden pushed the margin to 17-11 midway through the frame before a brief run by Ball State cut the lead to 22-19. DJ White recorded three of his six-set kills to give Harvard the set, 25-20. 

Following a see-saw opening to the fourth frame, the Cardinals jumped out to a four-point lead, 10-6. Harvard used a 3-1 stretch to pull within two, 11-9, before Ball State answered with a 10-4 run of their own to hold a 21-13 advantage. The Crimson rallied behind two kills from DJ White for the third time in the match as it pulled-within five, 22-17, Ball State's lead, however, was too much as the host went on to claim the set, 25-19, and force a fifth. 

Ball State opened a 4-1 advantage in the fifth and deciding frame before Harvard used an 8-5 spurt to even the score at 9-9. The teams swapped points for the remainder of the frame before the Cardinals notched a kill and capitalized on a Crimson error to take the match, 16-14. 

Harvard returns to the court Tuesday, March 18 when the Crimson visits No. 15 Ohio State at 7 p.m.