Men’s Volleyball Falls to Princeton in EIVA Semifinal, 3-1

Zimmick led the Crimson's attack (photo courtesy Zack Williamson). 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The second-seeded Harvard men's volleyball team had its championship run cut short Thursday night, as third-seeded Princeton upset the Crimson, 3-1, in the EIVA semifinal match hosted by Penn State at Rec Hall. The Tigers took the match by set scores of 25-20, 25-15, 22-25 and 25-21. 

Caleb Zimmick scored 12 kills for Harvard while hitting a team-best .526. Sophomore Branden Clemens and senior Nick Madden contributed nine digs each with Clemens hitting a .400 clip. Freshman Nick Bendell dished out 42 assists. Defensively, Madden and classmate Chris Gibbons notched 11 digs as Zimmick added five blocks. 

Princeton received a match-high 19-kill effort from Pat Schwagler and 17 kills from Devin Stearns.

The first set opened as a back-and-forth affair until Harvard used a kill by Zimmick and a Princeton attack error to take a slim 5-3 edge and force a Tigers timeout. Out of the break, however, it was all Princeton as the Tigers surged to a 14-11 lead. Princeton continued to pile on points, scoring five straight, to hold a 19-12 advantage before a kill by Kyle Rehkemper put an end to the run. The Tigers remained in front, but the Crimson didn't go down without a fight as Zimmick paired with DJ White and Bendell for consecutive blocks that cut Princeton's lead to four, 23-19. Harvard couldn't complete the comeback as the Tigers took the set, 25-20. 

Harvard fell in a 10-3 hole to start the second set. The Crimson chipped away at the Tiger's lead and pulled within five, 16-11, but Princeton answered with four straight points to stretch the margin back to nine, 20-11. The teams traded points before a kill by Stearns sealed Princeton's 25-15 win. 

With its back against the wall, Harvard rallied in the third set that opened with 12 ties and five lead changes. Trailing 18-19, DJ White scored a kill to knot the frame for the 13th time. Behind sophomore Alec Schlossman at the service line, Harvard took the lead, 20-19, before the Tigers equalized the game off a kill from Stearns. DJ White answered for the Crimson with two scoring kills to regain a two-point edge, 22-20. A scoring kill by Clemens gave Harvard a chance at set point, 24-21, and a kill by Madden, put the set away, 25-22. 

See-saw action opened the fourth frame. Down 6-9, the Crimson scored four of the next five points to even the match at 10. After two more ties, Harvard took the lead off a Princeton error, 13-12, but it was short-lived as back-to-back kills by Schwagler put the Tigers ahead by two, 15-13. At the mid-way point the set remained a one-point deficit in favor of the Tigers. Princeton was able to couple consecutive scores to hold a 23-19 advantage en route to a 25-21 victory. 

Harvard concludes its season that saw the Crimson earn multiple program-best including the highest AVCA National ranking, most wins in EIVA regular season action, and most all-conference honorees.