Over 40 volleyball players from Wharton, NYU Stern, MIT Sloan, and Columbia stepped into Shad Hall on the morning of November 17th to join nearly 30 Harvard Business School players in the HBS Volleyball Fall Classic tournament. There was little doubt that, when they left, the other MBA students were thoroughly impressed.
With two dedicated volleyball courts and a catered lunch in Shad Caf‚, the visiting business school students were able to admire the top-notch sports facility. “I walked in [to Shad Hall], and I suddenly felt like we were from a third-world country or something,” joked one Wharton player.
Equally impressive was the depth of talent exhibited by the HBS volleyball teams. Despite excessive showboating and jumpserve errors from Team 1 player Curt Medeiros (OH), both HBS Team 1 and HBS Team 2 dominated pool play, each entering the playoffs undefeated with a 6-0 game record and ranked 1st in their respective pools.
In the end, HBS captured the top two spots, with HBS Team 1 triumphing 2-1 (10-15, 15-5, 15-9) over HBS Team 2 in a competitive three-game championship final. Columbia claimed third place, while Wharton finished fourth. Also competing in the tournament were two NYU Stern teams, an MIT Sloan team, and a third HBS team. A Darden team withdrew from the event due to player injuries and the fear of facing the HBS teams.
With three Harvard teams competing, HBS players anticipated a sweep of the top three spots in the tournament. Although Team 3 fell short of reaching the semifinals, HBS Teams 1 and 2 secured spots in the playoff finals, achieving an all-HBS championship match. With the championship trophy, individual gold medals, and, most importantly, bragging rights at stake, HBS 1 and HBS 2 battled hard in a close match that exhibited HBS volleyball at its best.
Led by captain Paul Sims (NJ), a determined Team 2 immediately took control of the match. With the HBS 1 front row struggling to close its block, Team 2 hitters Sasha Berson (OH), Laurent Therivel (NA), and Max Coqui (NB) repeatedly hit through the seam of the Team 1 block to help build a substantial lead. HBS 2 captured Game 1, 15-10.
Down one game, HBS Team 1 gathered in a huddle to regain their composure and get fired up. HBS 1 outside hitter Erin Rice (NB) also entered the match in Game 2, refusing to let an earlier ankle injury impede her performance in the championship final. Despite a consistent offense run by Team 2 setters Mike Ward (OD), Jennifer Henzel (NI), and Peter Platzer (OJ), HBS 1 made a strong comeback, tying the match at 1-1with a convincing Game 2 victory, 15-5.
Tied at one game apiece, the two teams proceeded to a final rally-score game. With the championship on the line, HBS Team 1 mascot Mart¡ Jimenez (OC) took to the sidelines, where the team found him most useful, alongside Team 1 cheerleader Geradine Coppola (OC) (who, by the way, failed to come in full uniform as she had promised).
Fueled by the momentum from Game 2, Team 1 setters Dan Martin (OG) and Marcus Lo (OD) shifted to a simpler offense that relied more heavily on outside hitters Curt Medeiros (OH) and Legrand Lewis (NC) to exploit Team 2’s relatively smaller right-side block. HBS Team 1 captured the deciding game 15-9 to claim the championship trophy for Marcus Lo’s shelf… oops, I meant to say “for the Shad Hall trophy case…”
The HBS teams were comprised not only of students, but partners and staff members as well, with HBS Andrew Lee (OJ partner) and Kerry Bryan (NA partner) on Team 1, and Dwayne Golomb (NB partner) and HBS staff member Alex Lemiuex on Team 3.
HBS Team 3, which finished in 7th place, struggled during pool play, with Brook Hazelton (NG) absent and Javier Segovia (OF) whining about an ankle injury from the prior week. Team 3 also included captain Alex Dearaujo (NE), Eric Sillman (OJ), Gisel Hiscock (ND), and Katie Cunningham (NI).
Wharton, Sloan, and Stern players joined members of the HBS teams at a post-tournament celebration in John Harvard’s Brew Pub, where Dan Martin showed off his shiny new gold medal (okay, fine, I admit that I did that, too… Blame it on all the alcohol…).
Officers from the different schools already began discussing details of the spring tournaments held by Wharton and MIT Sloan, which will provide additional venues for HBS volleyball to display its dominance. It’s unfortunate that their gyms just won’t be as nice as ours.
1st place: HBS Team 1
2nd place: HBS Team 2
3rd place: Columbia
4th place: Wharton
5th place: NYU Stern Team 1
6th place: MIT Sloan
7th place: HBS Team 3
8th place: NYU Stern Team 2