Cambridge, Mass. (April 10) - The MIT men's volleyball team, which is receiving votes in this week's American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division III National Poll and is 7th in this week's NCAA Division III East Regional Rankings, will be making its return to the United Volleyball Conference (UVC) Tournament this weekend for the fourth time in program history. Top-seeded and nationally-ranked Stevens Institute of Technology will be the host of the six-team tournament which will take place at Caldwell University in Caldwell, N.J. through Sunday, April 14.
MIT (23-8), which earned the fifth-seed in this year's tournament with a 5-4 record in the UVC this season, will be playing fourth-seeded NYU (12-10), which went 6-3 in league play this year, on Friday, April 12 at 5:00 pm. You can watch all of the action live on StevensDucks.com or at this link here or you can visit the Championship Central page for all information this weekend here.
The entire UVC Tournament bracket and matchups can be found below:
No. 4 NYU vs. No. 5 MIT - Friday, April 12 at 5:00 pm (Live Stats | Video)
No. 3 St. John Fisher vs. No. 6 Vassar - Friday, April 12 at 7:30 pm
No. 4/No. 5 winner vs. No. 1 Stevens - Saturday, April 13 at 2:30 pm
No. 3/No. 6 winner vs. No. 2 New Paltz - Saturday, April 13 at 5:00 pm
Winners of Both Semifinals - Sunday, April 14 at 2:00 pm
MIT and NYU met earlier this year on February 8 in New York City and the Violets defeated the Engineers in straights sets by scores of 25-17, 25-17, 25-17. NYU leads the all-time series with MIT 11-5 which dates back to the 1988 campaign, however the Engineers did knock off the then ranked No. 7 Violets last season in straight sets. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two clubs in the UVC Tournament and MIT will be looking to pick up its first-ever UVC Tournament win on Friday as previously the Engineers have been knocked out of the playoffs in the quarterfinal round three times including in 2014 against Stevens, in 2016 against Nazareth and in 2017 against New Paltz.
MIT finished the regular season with an overall record of 23-8, the most wins for the program since the 2014 campaign when the Engineers went 24-7. MIT began the year 5-0 with wins over Regis College, Lasell College, Alvernia University, Baruch College and regionally-ranked Rivier University. Over the course of the season, MIT also picked up wins over three nationally-ranked programs including No. 11 Endicott College, No. 14 Dominican University (Ill.) and No. 14 Vassar College. The Engineers went 14-4 in three-set matches, 7-3 in four-setters and 2-1 in five-set contests and also posted a 6-4 record at home, an 8-3 mark away from Rockwell Cage and 9-1 in neutral contests.
Statistically, as a team MIT led the UVC in digs per set with 10.95 and also ranked third in blocks per set (2.13), kills per set (11.99) and assists per set (11.01) as well as fifth in hitting percentage (.248). Its quarterfinal opponent NYU ranked fourth in hitting percentage (.272) and kills per set (11.89), fifth in assists per set (10.82) and blocks per set (1.91) as well as ninth in digs per set (8.20).
Individually, the Engineers were led by now two-time UVC Libero/Defensive Specialist of the Year Thomas Nelson (San Ramon, Calif.) and three-time UVC All-Conference honoree Skyler Kaufman (Needham, Mass.). Kaufman smashed his own single-season program record with a .442 hitting percentage, which also is currently the second-highest in all of Division III and leads the UVC. Kaufman has posted 227 total kills, which is two shy of his career-best, 18 service aces, 43 digs and a career-high 87 total blocks that include a career-high 28 solo blocks and 59 assisted blocks. With more games to play in this weekend's UVC postseason championship tournament, Kaufman will look to move his name up on the all-time lists for career blocks as he sits 3rd in all-time solo blocks (74) and fifth in both assisted blocks (253) and total blocks (327). His 903 career kills also rank tenth all-time in program history.
Nelson has posted 199 digs thus far this season for an average of 2.55 per set, which ranked second in the UVC and 35th in Division III men's volleyball. Additionally, the junior, in 25 matches, tallied a career-high 138 kills (1.77 per set), hit .245, registered 24 service aces and notched a career-high 16 total blocks (two solo, 14 assists). Nelson had one of his best matches of the season at Rivier University on January 30 as he produced 16 kills (.448) and ten digs to go along with six service aces, which tied the single match program record for most in a four set match as the last student-athlete to accomplish this feat was Bob Aspell against Elms College on March 1, 2006.