Endicott Defeats No. 13 MIT in Five-Set Thriller

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In a back-and-forth battle, Endicott College emerged with a 31-29, 22-30, 30-28, 22-30, 15-12 victory over nationally-ranked No. 13 MIT in a North East Collegiate Volleyball Association (NECVA) New England Division match on Tuesday. Mike Demyttenaere registered 21 kills, three blocks, and three aces for the Engineers (7-4, 2-2 NECVA). A.J. Witkofsky tallied 21 kills to become the Gulls’ all-time kill leader in addition to racking up 19 digs and six blocks.

Endicott (7-4, 4-0 NECVA) inched out to a 10-6 lead in the opening set, but MIT countered with an 11-4 run. The Gulls capitalized on a trio of miscues to even the frame at 17. The Engineers picked up four out of the next five points and eventually held a 25-21 advantage. Endicott countered with an 8-4 spurt to set up game point. A strike by Demyttenaere tied the score at 29, but a kill from Zeke Kubisch and a solo block by Witkofsky sealed the frame for the Gulls.

The Cardinal and Gray slowly built an 11-8 edge in the second stanza. A 6-2 spurt, which featured three kills, an ace, and an assisted block by Witkofsky, put Endicott in front, 14-12. MIT responded with 15-4 run to take control of the game. The Gulls generated a late rally that brought them within six (28-22), however the Engineers quickly recorded the next two points to end the set.

Each side traded points to start the third frame until a 9-2 spurt resulted in a 14-8 advantage for Endicott. MIT narrowed the gap to two on a pair of occasions, but the Gulls maintained their small cushion as late as 27-23. Kills from Patrick Vatterott and Matt Hohenberger, an ace by Garrett Winther, a block by Vatterott and Benson George knotted the score at 27. John Emery’s kill coupled with an ace by Witkofsky gave Endicott set point. A serving error kept MIT alive, but a strike from Emery capped the game.

The Gulls carried the momentum into the fourth set, gradually establishing a 12-8 edge. The Engineers mounted a 15-3 run that featured a trio of aces by Hohenberger and resulted in a 23-15 advantage. Both sides exchanged points until Endicott scored two in a row to cut their deficit to six (28-22). A kill from Hohenberger and a strike by Demyttenaere on an overpass thwarted any attempts by the Gulls to sustain the late rally.

In the decisive fifth frame, both squads alternated scoring as a hitting error put Endicott up, 8-7, at the changeover. Another hitting miscue and a strike by Kubisch on an overpass gave the Gulls some breathing room. The Engineers stormed back with three straight points to tie the set at 10. A hitting error and a block by Emery and Witkofsky put Endicott in front, 12-10, and prompted a timeout by MIT. Following the break, Alex Becherer and Winther each posted a kill to erase the deficit. The Gulls converted a hitting error and used spikes by Witkofsky and James Sliva to clinch the match.

Hohenberger notched 18 kills and a team-high four aces as Vatterott registered 10 kills and a match-high eight blocks. Winther tallied 13 kills, six assists, three blocks, and three aces while Tim Lee compiled 66 assists, 13 digs, and six blocks. David Thomas bolstered the Engineers’ attack with 10 kills as Eric Reuland led the defense with 16 digs. Becherer and Jeremy Velazquez rounded out the squad with 12 and 11 digs, respectively.

Emery contributed 16 kills in the Gulls’ victory as Ben Foster dished out 58 assists. David Lowe led the way with a match-high 21 digs.

Both squads will continue NECVA New England Division action on the road this week. MIT will travel to Wentworth Institute of Technology on Thursday, Feb. 11 while Endicott will take on Daniel Webster College a day earlier.