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Men’s Volleyball Bests Dominican University of New York, 3-1

Outside hitter Logan Shepherd goes up to try to block a kill in a game against Princeton last month.
Outside hitter Logan Shepherd goes up to try to block a kill in a game against Princeton last month. By Daniel Morales Rosales

In a thrilling evening at the Malkin Athletic Center, the No. 19 Harvard men's volleyball team (11-6, 3-1 EIVA) celebrated its return home to the MAC with a clear-cut 3-1 victory over Dominican University of New York (10-10, 2-1 ECC). The win marked its second consecutive successful weekend of play.

The team expected to sweep Dominican, a new program in its first year of competition that is fielded entirely by freshmen, but fell short in the first set before coming back to clinch the next three. Harvard Head Coach Brian Baise made the confident choice to start a slew of second-string players against the Chargers in order to get his bench warmed up for conference play.

Freshman outside hitter Quinn Bishop posted a particularly dominant performance, alongside sophomore outside hitter Zach Berty, who was named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week for his prowess. Bishop notched three assists, slotting into a more offensive possession that tested his skills on the court.

“I usually play libero on the team, this is my first night playing outside,” said Bishop. “I learned that we’ve got to play smart—hit high and straight down.”

Berty was a player to watch throughout the match, quarterbacking his team to an offensive victory. The Corona del Mar, Calif. native posted an impressive 20 kills, seven digs, and five aces. For reference, the sophomore struck five of the team’s seven total aces on the evening. Serving more consistently is something the players noted they need to work on following the match as they head into more competitive contests.

“Zach Berty hit insane,” junior libero Callum Diak noted “He had a really strong game, and executed well. He put the ball away super well and that definitely helped us out in the late parts of the game.”

The match kicked off with a tightly contested first set that saw the Chargers come out hot and outpace the Crimson, taking the set 25-23. In a moment that might have swayed the momentum in favor of Dominican, Harvard was called for a line penalty that gave possession back to its opponent. The Crimson led for the majority of the first set, but the Chargers were able to claw back from a 20-17 deficit to seal their slice of victory.

“That was the first time we’ve been called for that this season, so it kind of threw us off a little bit, but I don’t think it impacted us that much,” added Diak. “I think we are a pretty mentally solid team, so if we make a mistake we’re good at putting that behind us and moving on.”

The team certainly did put that penalty behind it as it entered the second, dominating against the Chargers. Returning to the court after a brief break with a renewed vigor, the squad came out swinging. In what felt to be an entirely different contest, the squad successfully put its slow start behind it and raced out to a quick 18-10 lead. The team kept its foot on the gas, avoiding making the same mistake as in the previous set. With a kill by junior outside hitter Andrew Lobo, the squad brought home the second set 25-14 to tie the game at one all.

The Crimson dominated Dominican in every category, but the win was most definitely driven by the team’s impressive offense, which boasted 65 kills and a .538 hitting percentage. Freshman setter Adrian Shevchuk proved to be invaluable, setting up opportunities for his line with 53 assists. The team’s total assist-count was 63, to highlight Shevchuk’s prowess at the net.

In the closely contested third set, the Chargers initially took a 4-2 lead, but Harvard managed to claw back and tie the game quite quickly. Play remained gridlocked for the entirety of the set until the home team found a surge of energy that sent it sailing past Dominican to a 22-19 advantage. The team didn’t let nerves get the best of it, and a decisive kill by Berty propelled Harvard forward to a 2-1 lead.

“Though we had a rough first set, our offense was strong throughout the whole game,” said Lobo. “Going forward in the second, third, and fourth sets, we really focused on playing strong defense.”

The momentum carried into the fourth set, where Harvard and the Chargers started off evenly matched. Harvard quickly pulled ahead, with Lobo securing four kills. The team's .375 hitting percentage set the stage for a triumphant conclusion. The final victory was secured by an Ethan Smith service ace followed by another kill from Berty, ensuring a 25-21 set win for Harvard.

“We are probably going to do a lot of serving, and a lot of offensive work,” added Diak about what the squad will look to work on heading into its matchup against Penn State. “Lots of blocking too.”

The next stretch of games for the Harvard roster are crucial to securing its place in postseason play. Its next six battles will be fought against EIVA opponents, before it looks to continue striving for glory in the EIVA tournament that will take place from April 17 to 20.

The Crimson will travel to University Park, PA this weekend to face off in a double-header against the highly-touted No. 9 Penn State Nittany Lions. The first whistle will blow on Friday night at 7:00 pm, and play will continue the following afternoon at 4:00 pm.


—Staff writer Katharine A. Forst can be reached at katharine.forst@thecrimson.com.

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