CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In its final match before spring break, the nationally-ranked No. 14 MIT men's volleyball team defeated local rival Emmanuel College, 25-19, 31-33, 25-20, 25-18, on Thursday night. The Engineers extended their winning streak to seven while improving to 19-11 on the year. The Saints, meanwhile, saw their ledger lower to 9-12 for the season.
Strong serving by senior Matt Hohenberger (St. Louis, Mo.) along with a trio of assisted blocks by sophomore Andrew Busse (Mount Prospect, Ill.), two with classmate Alex Klein (San Diego, Calif.) and another with junior Ken Siebert (St. Louis, Mo.), helped MIT establish an 8-4 lead in the first set. A kill by Emmanuel sophomore Zach Whitermore (Whitehall, Pa.) off the Engineers' block ended the run and kept it within striking distance as a service error narrowed the gap to 15-12. MIT rattled off the next three points to double its cushion before eventually going up 23-17. Back-to-back kills from sophomore Ashanti Jackson (Sacramento, Calif.) kept the Saints alive, but a strike by Hohenberger and an error gave the Engineers the win.
The second stanza was a back-and-forth affair as it featured 21 ties and eight lead changes. With the score knotted at 14, MIT put together a 5-2 spurt that was capped by a Siebert kill. A strike by Jackson followed by a pair of errors evened the score at 19 for the Saints. An exchange of points ensued until Emmanuel went in front, 23-22, and forced the Engineers to call a timeout. Following the break, Busse registered a kill while Siebert and senior Patrick Vatterott (St. Louis, Mo.) collaborated on a block that resulted in set point.
After a timeout by the Saints, another kill from Jackson in addition to a MIT hitting error gave the Saints a 25-24 edge. A serving error tied the set and led to alternating side-outs until a hitting error and a kill from Klein made the score, 29-28. Jackson recorded the equalizer on his next hitting attempt; however, both squads traded points as Jackson's kill moved the score to 31-all. Emmanuel captured the lead courtesy of a block by senior Nick Updike (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and sophomore Wyatt Cooper (Ridgefield, Conn.) before clinching the victory on a Jackson blast.
The tight play continued into the third set as it produced 14 ties and six lead changes. Trailing 17-16, a Vatterott kill and an Emmanuel miscue gave the Engineers a lead they would not relinquish. A strike by freshman Barrett Wingard (Dallastown, Pa.) tied the set at 18, but MIT responded with a 7-2 run to close out the frame.
The Engineers jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the final set but the Saints battled back, cutting their deficit to two on three occasions, the last at 9-7. MIT replied by scoring six of the next seven points and maintained a comfortable margin all the way to set point. Emmanuel used a pair of miscues and a kill from freshman Drew Jordan (Braintree, Mass.) to extend the match; however, the late rally was thwarted on a tip by Vatterott.
Hohenberger finished with a team-high 17 kills to go along with two blocks while Busse posted 14 kills, a .650 hitting performance, and seven blocks. Siebert tallied 12 kills, 11 digs, four aces, and three blocks as Klein registered nine kills and two blocks. Vatterott rounded out the front row with seven digs, six kills, and two blocks. Freshman Brendan Chang (Laytonsville, Md.) collected 12 digs, helping him surpass the previous Institute record for digs in a season which was 357 set by Ryan Dean '08 during his senior year. Junior Paul Syta (Fairport, N.Y.) amassed 56 assists, nine digs, six kills, and three blocks for the Engineers.
MIT returns to action on Friday, April 5 as it will host the two-day MIT Scramble Tournament. Next up for Emmanuel is a trip to Johnson & Wales University where it will also square off with Lasell College in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference tri-match on Saturday, March 23.