April 5, 2018 Yash Padhye, Ben Schueren and Patrick Murphy
Imagine having to live in the presence of greatness. Consider what it’s like to live under the same roof as a volleyball giant and have the expectations to live up to the legend who shares your name.
For Matthew Ctvrtlik, he’s trying to create his own name in men’s volleyball.
Matthew’s father, Bob Ctvrtlik, is a three-time Olympic men’s volleyball player, earning a gold medal in Seoul in 1988 and a bronze medal in Barcelona in 1992. Bob also was a part of the U.S. men’s volleyball team for the 1996 Olympic Games, but the team did not medal and finished in seventh place.
Now it is Matthew’s turn to carry on the Ctvrtlik name in the world of men’s volleyball — as a sophomore setter at Harvard University.
Matthew says that a lot of his on-court personality comes from his father. Matthew has taken his father’s poise and uses it to become the volleyball star that his father used to be.
“He’s not a guy to get rushed with anything, and he takes it one point at a time,” said Matthew, “and his demeanor has rubbed off on me when I play.”
Harvard head men’s volleyball coach Brian Baise points out a key difference between Ctvrtlik and his father.
“I’ve watched them both play, and there’s a lot of similarities in the way that they play,” Baise said. “But, Matt’s father was a hitter and Matt is a setter, that’s the big difference.”
With his demeanor, Matthew has made a big impact for the Harvard Crimson. He has the fifth-most kills on the team so far with 72 and the second-most digs on the team with 112 as of March 21.
The younger Ctvrtlik also has a couple of statistical accolades to his credit, as he had his first triple-double of his collegiate career, and the only one of the NCAA season as of March 21, with 10 kills, 10 digs and 16 assists against Ball State University in late January. He followed this performance up a month later with his first double-double against the New Jersey Institute of Technology, recording 32 assists and 13 digs in that match.
Coach Baise attributes Matt’s success to his confidence and leadership ability on the court. Baise hopes that those attributes will continue to grow during Ctvrtlik’s time at Harvard.
“He’s dedicated, and he loves the sport,” said Baise. “Next year, we’ll lose a couple seniors, so to have a guy like Matt, an upperclassmen, will be really big for us.”
Being a student-athlete at one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the country means having to balance rigorous coursework with the obligations that come with being a student athlete.
Not only does Matthew put in a lot of hard work on the court, he also brings that same work ethic when it comes to his academics.
“Despite the fact that I have to put in time in my textbooks studying, I put time on the court just as much,” said Matthew. “I take that as a job and as a class, and I think doing both makes me a better individual and a better volleyball player.”
Matthew hopes to follow a similar path to his father, playing professionally and for the U.S. national team. However, he wants to forge his own path in men’s volleyball while helping to sustain his father’s legacy. Matthew wants to use his work ethic to become better than his father was while on the U.S. national team.
“It’s tough, you know, with the last name Ctvrtlik. People kind of match me against my dad,” Ctvrtlik said. “I would say I have the capability, and I have the work ethic to beat him.”