A steadfast New York University men’s volleyball team withstood a 2-1 deficit to serve up a 3-2 victory over Harvard this past Friday (Feb. 22), handing the Crimson its only five-game setback of the season thus far. With the loss, Harvard also suffered its first three-match skid of the 2008 campaign, while falling to 4-5 overall (3-2, Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association [EIVA]).
Narrowly dropping the opening game in an error-plagued performance, 31-29, Harvard bounced back in the next two contests in aggressive fashion, posting 12 and 18 kills, respectively, to take a 2-1 edge. The hosts evened the tally with a convincing 30-21 triumph in the second set — the largest margin of victory for either team on the evening — before capturing the following game (and the lead), 30-25, on the strength of an impressive .448 attack percentage.
Though Harvard appeared poised to dispose of the Violets in game four, owing largely to a series of ferocious smashes by 6-foot-9-inch middle blocker Brady Weissbourd ’09 (16 kills on the evening), NYU managed to thwart the Harvard cause with 19 kills of its own to take the game, 30-24.
In the fast and furious tiebreaker, Weissbourd tied the score at four with another monstrous spike, as things seemed to unravel for the Violets. But the Crimson soon experienced its own share of errors, and suddenly found itself unable to crack the two-point buffer established by NYU. The Crimson ultimately succumbed to a .211 attack percentage, falling by a score of 15-13 to surrender the match, 3-2.
In the libero position, Brian Rapp ’08 was sensational for Harvard, amassing a game-high 28 digs in the losing effort. Prior to the contest, the senior was leading the nation with 3.12 digs per game. Against NYU, he averaged 5.6.
Despite the setback, the Crimson still sit pretty in the EIVA Hay Division standings, occupying the second spot behind Springfield. And for that, volunteer assistant coach Jose Barbosa remains optimistic as his team enters the latter half of the season.
“I think we’re in a good situation. The important games that we have to win we’ve been winning, basically,” Barbosa said. It’s true. Just three of the Crimson’s remaining 10 games are against Hay Division opponents.
As for Harvard’s March 29 rematch against NYU — a squad that’s shaping up to be a spirited rival of the Crimson — Barbosa offers a straightforward assessment: “We lost, so we have to train really hard and play against them at home and beat them.”
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