CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In a tight United Volleyball Conference (UVC) match, MIT emerged with a 28-26, 25-21, 25-22 victory over Vassar College on Saturday afternoon. The No. 10 Engineers improved to 11-2 on the year and 5-1 in conference action while the Brewers saw their ledger lower to 3-9 overall and 1-5 in the UVC.
In the opening set, Vassar used a 10-5 run as a kill from junior Colin Fearn-Johnson (Honolulu, Hawaii) gave it a 17-13 advantage. A pair of kills from senior Paul Syta (Fairport, N.Y.) along with a trio of miscues helped MIT even the score at 18. The Brewers picked up three of the next four points to reclaim a slight edge; however, the Engineers came back to tie the frame at 21. An exchange of points ensued before sophomore Reno Kriz (Breinigsville, Pa.) produced a kill and block to give Vassar set point at 24-23. Both sides generated errors that moved the score to 25-25. Syta and junior Bradley Gross (Centreville, Va.) collaborated on a block to put MIT in front but a blast from Fearn-Johnson kept the visitors alive. The Engineers countered with a kill by senior Kenny Siebert (St. Louis, Mo.) and capitalized on a Vassar hitting error to take the first set at 28-26.
MIT maintained a small cushion throughout most of the second stanza until the Brewers recorded four straight points as a block by Kriz and sophomore Erik Halberg (Newark, Del.) put them in front, 15-13. After trading several side-outs, a kill from junior Andrew Busse (Mount Prospect, Ill.) sparked a 7-2 run that closed out the set for the Engineers.
After a back-and-forth start to the final frame, MIT outscored Vassar, 8-3, to go up 10-6. The Brewers replied with a 5-1 spurt as a Kriz kill evened the score at 11. The Engineers responded by putting together an 8-1 run to regain control of the set and then reach match point (24-19) on a kill by freshman Aaron Zalewski (Buffalo Grove, Ill.). A kill from senior Joe Pyne (Los Angeles, Calif.) coupled with a pair of errors extended the match for Vassar and resulted in an MIT timeout. Following the break, the hosts thwarted the comeback attempt with a block by Zalewski and Siebert.
Gross paced the Engineers' balanced attack by connecting on eight of his nine hitting attempts for a percentage of .809 while posting four blocks. Freshman Martin Krasuski (Aurora, Ill.) also recorded eight kills and added two blocks as Siebert totaled seven digs, six kills, two blocks, and MIT's only ace. Junior Alex Klein (San Diego, Calif.) and Busse both registered six kills while Klein chipped in three blocks. Syta compiled 32 assists, seven kills, five digs, and two blocks as senior Evan Wang (Saratoga, Calif.) distributed nine assists. Sophomore Brendan Chang (Laytonsville, Md.) paced the defense with seven digs, followed by four from freshman Suyash Fulay (Wexford, Pa.). In only one set of action, Zalewski produced three blocks.
Kriz totaled a match-high 12 kills to go along with two blocks for the Brewers while Pyne had 11 kills and 11 digs. Fearn-Johnson recorded nine kills and four blocks as Halberg bolstered the front row with three blocks. Freshman Christian Lizana (Dublin, Pa.) totaled six digs and two blocks while freshman Trey Cimorelli (Orchard Park, N.Y.) collected seven digs. Junior Colin White-Dzuro (Toronto, Ontario) rounded out the squad with 34 assists, seven digs, and two aces.
Both squads continue UVC action next week. MIT will host No. 1 SUNY New Paltz on Tuesday, Feb. 25 while Vassar will travel to No. 13 NYU on Thursday, Feb. 27.