MIT Rallies to Defeat Newbury in Five Sets

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The MIT men’s volleyball team gave Newbury College its first North East Collegiate Volleyball Association (NECVA) New England Division loss following a 30-22, 22-30, 24-30, 30-23, 15-13 thriller on Tuesday night. Of the 10 previous meetings between both programs, only one other match went to five sets and it was won by the Engineers in 2008.

Matt Hohenberger led MIT (18-6, 9-2 NECVA) with a match-high 22 kills to go along with three blocks and three aces. David Thomas posted 15 kills, three blocks, and two aces as Mike Demyttenaere totaled 11 kills and four blocks. Garrett Winther compiled 10 kills, six digs, and five blocks while Patrick Vatterott rounded out the front row with eight kills and six blocks. Tim Lee tallied 54 assists, eight digs, and two blocks as Jeremy Velazquez chipped in eight digs and two aces. Eric Reuland collected eight digs followed by six from Alex Becherer while Caine Jette dished out eight assists.

Mark Thomas powered the Nighthawks (14-8, 8-1 NECVA) with 15 kills and five blocks as Josh Aberly added 15 kills of his own. Matt Talamantes registered 47 assists and six digs.

The Engineers quickly established a 6-2 lead in the first set, but Newbury narrowed the gap to two on three occasions, the last courtesy of a 4-1 spurt which made the score 16-14. The Cardinal and Gray picked up the next three points to gain some breathing room and eventually extended its advantage to six (23-17). The Nighthawks continued to attack, coming within four points as late as 26-22. However, they could not sustain the rally as the hosts recorded the final four points of the frame.

Newbury controlled the early stages of the second set as it held a 13-8 advantage. A strike by David Thomas off of the Nighthawks’ block, followed by a kill from Demyttenaere, and a block by the duo quickly cut MIT’s deficit to two (13-11). The Nighthawks responded with a 6-1 run that resulted in their largest lead of the game. The Engineers rattled off the next four points as they came within three (19-16), but each side picked up a pair of points to maintain the slight gap. Newbury generated another 6-1 spurt which increased its margin to 27-19. Kills from Hohenberger and Winther in addition to a hitting error kept MIT’s hopes alive, but a miscue and strikes from Aberly and Danny Kim gave the visitors the win.

The start of the third set featured six ties and three lead changes until Newbury registered four points in a row, including back-to-back aces by David Thomas to go up, 12-9. A kill by Hohenberger kept the Engineers close, but the Nighthawks slowly inched out to a 27-19 advantage. Hits from David Thomas and a trio of miscues brought MIT within four (29-24), however, a block by Talamantes and Mark Thomas wrapped up the frame for Newbury.

With the fourth set knotted at nine, the Engineers mounted an 11-5 run to go ahead, 20-14. The Nighthawks battled back, coming within three on a trio of occasions, twice on kills by Mark Thomas and the final time at 26-23. A strike by Lee prompted a timeout from Newbury. MIT maintained its momentum following the break as it rattled off the last three points and forced a decisive fifth set.

The Nighthawks held a 3-2 edge in the final frame, but the Engineers capitalized on a trio of miscues and a kill from Demyttenaere go in front, 6-4. Two MIT errors quickly evened the score, however, a Hohenberger hit and a block by Vatterott and Lee gave the Engineers the lead at the changeover. Newbury posted four out of the next six points to tie the score at 10. The Engineers recorded back-to-back points, but James Beck’s hit off the block cut the Nighthawks’ deficit in half. After trading sideouts, David Thomas gave MIT match point with strike off Newbury’s block. Aberly extended the contest with kill from the back row but Demyttenaere found open space on the court to place the final hit.

Both squads will compete in tournaments this weekend. MIT will host its annual invitational while Newbury will travel to Medaille College for the Purple and Gold Invitational.