The Crimson closes its regular season on the road this weekend (photo courtesy Zach Williamson).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – After clinching a spot in the EIVA tournament, the Harvard men's volleyball team will close its 2014 regular season campaign on the road this weekend when it travels to the Garden State to take on NJIT and Rutgers-Newark. The Crimson will first take the court Friday, April 11 against the Highlanders at 7 p.m., before facing the Scarlet Raiders Saturday, April 12 at 2 p.m.
NJIT has lost seven straight matches and nine of its last 10 to fall to 8-15 overall and 2-9 in the EIVA. The Highlanders rank in the bottom half of the conference in both blocks (1.97), kills (11.88) and hitting percentage (.237), but is fourth in the EIVA in digs (9.40).
Jabarry Goodridge leads the Highlanders with 3.33 kps while Kajetan Borecki's 2.58 kps is good for second on the team. Oren Zyndorf paces the defense with 2.61 dps to go with 0.80 bps from Ryan Thomas.
Inside the Series with the Highlanders
Harvard cruised to a 3-0 victory over NJIT the first time the teams met this season to sweep the Highlanders for the ninth time since the two programs began competing in 1981. The Crimson has won five of the last six meetings against NJIT to hold a 17-15 advantage in the all-time series.
Rutgers-Newark has won three of its last four to sit 9-13 overall and 1-9 against the EIVA. Despite ranking fourth in the league in blocks (2.41), the Scarlet Raiders are last in kills (10.97), assists (10.28), aces (0.91), and points (14.0).
Rutgers-Newark is led by Travis Mintzer who has averaged 2.67 kps while hitting .218. Brett Pickens ranks fourth in the EIVA with 0.97 bps with Jack Fredricks' 1.62 dps adding to the defensive effort. Prior to Saturday's match, the Scarlet Raiders host Scared Heart Wednesday, April 9.
Inside the Series with the Scarlet Raiders
Despite earning a straight set victory over the Scarlet Raiders in the first meeting between the teams, Harvard trails the all-time series with Rutgers-Newark, 10-16.
Last Time Out
Harvard defeated Saint Francis (Pa.) in four sets Saturday afternoon at the Malkin Athletic Center to clinch a spot in the EIVA tournament. The Crimson closed out its 2014 home campaign by set scores of 25-19, 25-16, 18-25 and 25-16.
Junior DJ White had a match-high 15 kills to lead Harvard's attack for the 12th time this season. Madden and Rehkemper contributed 13 kills and nine kills, respectively, to the Crimson offense which hit .406.
The Crimson defense held Saint Francis to a .252 hitting percentage, thanks in–part to a career high nine-dig effort from freshman Nick Bendell, who also handed out 45 assists. Madden added eight digs to the defensive effort, while junior Caleb Zimmick turned in six blocks.
Where We Stand
At 9-3, Harvard is tied with Princeton for second in the EIVA standings while Penn sits atop the league with a 10-1 mark. George Mason's 7-5 record is good for fourth and Saint Francis lands fifth at 5-6. Sacred Heart comes in at sixth with a 3-10 ledger. NJIT (2-9) and Rutgers-Newark (1-9) round out the standings in seventh and eighth, respectively.
Entering its final weekend of regular season action, Harvard is preparing for its run at the postseason as the Crimson clinched its third consecutive berth in the EIVA tournament with a 3-1 defeat of Saint Francis April 5.
Rank and File
Following a 3-2 upset win over then-No. 15 Ohio State, Harvard re-entered the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division I-II poll at 15th March 23, where it stayed for two weeks. The Crimson initially appeared in the poll at a program-best 13th Jan. 6. Harvard stayed in the national mix for three weeks after knocking off two ranked opponents in pool play at the Asics Invitational to open its season.
Related Link: AVCA Division I-II National Poll
Nick Bendell pick up the first weekly accolade of his career April 7 when he was named the Block/Springbak Inc. Co-National Freshmen of the Week. The setter appeared on the award's honorable mention list March 23, while classmate Casey White received two honorable mention nods this season.
Caleb Zimmick hit an .889 clip in the team's 3-0 victory over Marymount (Va.), registering eight kills on nine attempts. The junior ranks ninth in the nation with a .427 hitting percentage and is second in the EIVA, while DJ White is ninth in the league with a .307 mark. As a team, the Crimson ranks 15th in the NCAA and fourth in the conference with a .284 percentage and has hit over .300 in a match 12 times this season.
DJ White has scored 225 kills this season, including a career-best 26 at then-No. 13 Ball State March 16, the most for a Crimson player since Nick Madden scored 27 in a 3-0 win at Cal-Baptist March 13, 2011. The junior's team-high 3.26 kps is the fourth best in the conference and 34th in the nation. As a team, Harvard notches the NCAA's 24th-best kills per set average with 11.96.
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. 23 in the NCAA in blocks per set (2.23). On the individual list, Caleb Zimmick (1.12 bps) sits 14th, while Kyle Rehkemper (0.85 bps) is 47th
Setting it Up
Nick Bendell has served as the Crimson's primary setter in his first collegiate campaign. Bendell has dished out 9.73 aps, which lands 21st in the NCAA and second in the EIVA.
Serving Up Aces
Senior Nick Madden has turned in a total of 18 aces this season, bringing his career total to 58 and putting him in a tie for sixth place on Harvard's career list. The Crimson's 0.95 aces per set rank 28th in the NCAA. Classmate Kyle Rehkemper also appears in the Crimson aces annals as the middle blocker has totaled 54 to sit in a tie for 10th.
Harvard has received seven double-double efforts this season with Nick Madden DJ White each contributing three. Caleb Zimmick notched his first career double-double against Concordia Feb. 16. Madden leads the six active Crimson who have notched a double-double in their career with seven.
The White Brothers
Casey and DJ White have been instrumental to the Crimson on both sides of the net this season. The Hermosa Beach, Calif., natives have combined for nearly one-third of Harvard's blocks (48-168), digs (215-735) and service aces (25-71). Offensively, the brothers have notched 42.4 percent (380-897) of the Crimson's attack.
And the Award Goes To
Harvard has earned six EIVA weekly awards this season with three Crimson student-athletes garnering an honor.
Nick Madden picked up three straight defensive player of the week nods March 10, 17 and 24, while DJ White has been named the best defensive and offensive player of the week. Kyle Rehkmper was tabbed the best defensive player over a seven-day stretch for his performance in Harvard's EIVA opener against Sacred Heart Feb. 7.
Related Links : DJ White Earns EIVA Defensive Player of the Week Honors | Rehkemper Named EIVA Defensive Player of the Week | Madden Tabbed EIVA Defensive Player of the Week | DJ White Madden Sweep EIVA Weekly Awards | Madden Picks Up Third Straight EIVA Defensive Player of the Week Honor
The Crimson has hosted 55 opponents in 115 matches under the roof of the Malkin Athletic Center and boasts an 82-33 (.713) all-time mark at home. Harvard's home-court advantage includes a program-best nine-match win streak that lasted more than a calendar year between Feb. 18, 2012 to April 5, 2013.
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 of 5-2, set in 2012 en route to a 10-4 EIVA record and second place regular-season finish.
Eight active players have already made a place for themselves in Harvard's record book. Chris Gibbons owns the top spot for career digs (750) while Will Chambers' .438 hitting percentage sits atop the career list. Kyle Rehkemper finds himself on six of the Crimson's career annals; fifth in block assists (197), sixth in total blocks (221), ninth in hitting percentage (.299) and tied for 10th in solo blocks (24) and service aces (54). Madden has etched his name on five lists as the senior sits second in digs (462), third in block assists (213) and kills (825), fifth in total blocks (233) and is tied for sixth in aces (58). DJ White and Caleb Zimmick rank in the top-10 on four lists each. DJ White holds the seventh best total kills (711), kills per set (3.04) and digs (358) and eighth best hitting percent .313. Zimmick lands third in hitting percentage (.400) and fourth on each of the blocks lists with 37 solo blocks, 212 block assists and 249 total blocks. Michael Owen's 130 block assists and 140 total blocks are good for seventh and 10th, respectively, while Nick Bendell's 681 assists land seventh.
Related Link: Men's Volleyball Record Book
Thank You, Seniors!
Harvard honored the playing careers of its five graduating seniors, Will Chambers, Chris Gibbons, Nick Madden, Michael Owen, and Kyle Rehkemper, prior to its match against Saint Francis April 5. The Class of 2014 has helped the Crimson to a 13-7 mark this season and owns a 58-38 record over the course of their careers. These five seniors have led Harvard to three straight appearances in the EIVA tournament and the program's first and highest AVCA national ranking, while writing each of their names in the program's record book along the way.
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.