Men's Volleyball Falls to Harvard in Four Sets

Junior Chris Omahan
Junior Chris Omahan

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In the annual meeting between crosstown rivals, Harvard University defeated MIT, 17-25, 25-13, 25-17, 25-19, in a non-conference men's volleyball match on Saturday night. The nationally-ranked No. 12 Engineers suffered their first loss of the season as their ledger lowered to 3-1 while the Crimson improved to 1-3 on the year.

The opening set was a back-and-forth affair as it featured 12 ties and four lead changes. A kill by freshman Casey White (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) evened the score at 14 for Harvard but a strike from senior Paul Syta (Fairport, N.Y.) put MIT in front and was followed by a block with junior Andrew Busse (Mount Prospect, Ill.). Following an ace by senior Kenny Siebert (St. Louis, Mo.), the Crimson called a timeout. After the break, the visitors capitalized on several miscues, a block and a kill by sophomore Branden Clemens (Carmel, Ind.) to come within one (18-17). The Engineers responded by scoring the final seven points, sparked by a kill from junior Chris Omahan (Mount Vernon, Ohio).

Harvard maintained a slim lead during the early stages of the second stanza as a kill by junior Alex Klein (San Diego, Calif.) trimmed MIT's deficit to three (12-9). The Crimson replied by mounting a 13-4 run to close out the set. Senior Nick Madden (San Diego, Calif.) earned a pair of aces at the beginning of the rally and later on recorded two kills, including set point.

In the third frame, Harvard rattled off seven unanswered points to claim a 9-3 advantage that later grew to 19-10. The Engineers continued to attack, narrowing the gap to four (20-16) on an ace by freshman Martin Krasuski (Aurora, Ill.). The visitors then registered five of the next six points to claim the victory.

The Crimson gradually established a 16-11 advantage in the final set, but MIT slowly chipped away at the deficit as an ace from freshman Aaron Zalewski (Buffalo Grove, Ill.) brought it within one (18-17). After a Harvard timeout, senior Kyle Rehkemper (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.) recorded a kill that sparked a match-ending 7-2 run.

Omahan and Krasuski led the way for the Engineers with eight kills apiece while Zalewski posted six kills and three blocks. Klein chipped in six kills and two blocks as Busse bolstered the front row with two blocks. Syta tallied 21 assists, six digs, and two aces while sophomore Brendan Chang (Laytonsville, Md.) collected 12 digs. Siebert rounded out the squad with five digs.

White generated a match-high 14 kills and had a .462 hitting performance as Madden totaled 12 kills, four aces, and three blocks for the Crimson. Senior Michael Owen (Middleton, Wis.) and freshman Nick Bendell (Orland Park, Ill.) shared setting duties, dishing out 20 and 22 assists, respectively. Clemens produced six kills, five digs, and three blocks while Rehkemper finished with six blocks and five kills. Junior DJ White (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) contributed three blocks as senior Chris Gibbons (Yorba Linda, Calif.) racked up nine digs.

Both squads are on the road for their next matches. MIT will travel to Daniel Webster College on Wednesday, Feb. 5 while Harvard will visit Sacred Heart University on Friday, Feb. 7 for its first Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association match of the season.