UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Fighting for its second EIVA Championship title match appearance in the last three years, second-seeded Harvard's season came to a close at the hands of third-seed George Mason, 3-1. The defeat came by set scores of 25-18, 25-22, 19-25, and 26-24.
Branden Clemens and DJ White recorded 14 kills apiece, while Brad Gretsch totaled 10 kills with a .750 hitting percentage. Marko Kostich passed out 44 assists, helping Harvard (13-12) to hit .254 in the match.
Defensively, Riley Moore posted a career-high eight blocks to lead all student-athletes, while Clemens and Gretsch each had four. Clemens completed his fifth-career double-double with a team-high 10 digs.
Harvard fell behind early with a 25-18 loss in the opening frame. Tied at 9-9, George Mason (15-12) rattled off six of eight scores to take a four-point lead, 15-11. Successive points from Gretsch helped cut the lead to two, 18-16, but George Mason rallied to record seven of the final nine points of the first stanza.
The Patriots extended their lead to 2-0 with a 25-22 win in the second period. George Mason built an early lead, and held a two-point advantage for a large portion of the set. Harvard threatened to close the gap late, but a service ace and attack error gave the third seed the frame.
The Crimson recovered from losses in the first two sets, capturing the third, 25-19. Clemens and Gretsch keyed Harvard to a five-point run at the beginning of the period to gain a 10-4 lead. The advantage grew as large as seven, and Clemens punctuated the set to get the Crimson on the scoreboard, 2-1.
In a tight fourth frame, each team took multiple turns with the lead. Tied at 18, DJ White and Casey White tallied back-to-back kills to prompt a George Mason timeout, but the Patriots collected themselves and took a 23-21 lead. Harvard battled to tie the set twice, but a pair of late errors sealed the game in the Patriots' favor.
Harvard ended its season with a 13-12 overall record, marking its fourth-straight season with a winning record.