CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In its annual meeting with crosstown rival Harvard University, the nationally-ranked No. 6 MIT men's volleyball team fell to the Crimson, 15-25, 25-19, 25-16, 25-17, on Saturday night. The loss lowered the Engineers' record to 5-2 on the year while Harvard improved to 4-0 this season.
MIT quickly established a 5-1 lead in the opening set, but the Crimson battled back and came within one point on three occasions, the last time courtesy of a kill by senior Matt Jones (La Jolla, Calif.) that made the score 11-10. A trio of miscues and a block from senior David Thomas (Carlsbad, Calif.) and junior Matt Hohenberger (St. Louis, Mo.) gave the Cardinal and Gray some breathing room and prompted a timeout by the visitors. Harvard picked up the next point following the break, but this was as close as it would get as MIT ended the game on a 10-4 run capped by a block by Thomas and graduate student Malcolm Bean (Rochester, N.Y.).
After trading points to start the second set, the Crimson tallied four in a row to take a 6-3 lead. The Engineers stayed within striking distance, eventually narrowing the gap to one (14-13) on a strike by Hohenberger. Harvard responded with a 10-3 run to seize control of the frame as a solo block by junior Rob Lothman (Glendale, Mo.) resulted in set point. MIT extended the game on freshman Chris Omahan's (Mount Vernon, Ohio) tip over the block, followed by a kill from Thomas and then a Crimson error. The late rally came to an end when a Jones strike hit the floor.
The early stages of the third set were closely played as Harvard clung to an 8-7 edge before it picked up the next four points. Freshman DJ White (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) led the spurt while sophomore Nick Madden (San Diego, Calif.) notched two kills and a block with freshman Caleb Zimmick (Middleton, Wis.). Both squads went on to exchange points until a three-point burst increased the score to 18-11 and forced the Engineers to call a timeout. Upon its return to the court, MIT capitalized on a Hohenberger kill and an ace along with a Crimson error to narrow the gap to four (18-14) for the fifth time. Harvard replied by registering seven of the final nine points to capture the win.
The Crimson jumped out to a 6-1 advantage in the final set which later grew to 9-3. The Engineers earned the next four points as a kill by sophomore Ken Siebert (St. Louis, Mo.) ended a lengthy rally. After trading the next six serves, Harvard put together a 5-2 spurt that increased its cushion to 17-12. A Thomas kill and then a block with junior Patrick Vatterott (St. Louis, Mo.) kept MIT in the hunt, but the Crimson mounted an 8-3 run to clinch the match.
Thomas finished with 13 kills, six digs, four blocks, and two aces while Hohenberger totaled 12 kills and two blocks. Freshman Alex Klein (San Diego, Calif.) bolstered the front row with seven kills as senior Jeremy Velazquez (Chelmsford, Mass.) collected 12 digs. Sophomores Paul Syta (Fairport, N.Y.) and Evan Wang (Saratoga, Calif.) shared setting duties, distributing 28 and nine assists, respectively.
Madden compiled 16 kills, three aces, and three blocks while Jones added 16 kills and five digs. White notched 10 kills and seven digs as Zimmick contributed five blocks and five kills. Lothman recorded 36 assists, five digs, and three blocks while sophomore Chris Gibbons (Yorba Linda, Calif.) had nine digs for the Crimson.
Both squads continue action on Wednesday, Feb. 8. MIT will travel to No. 2 Springfield College while Harvard starts the first of a seven-match home-stand beginning with Cal Baptist.