CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The nationally-ranked No. 10 MIT men's volleyball team wrapped up regular-season play with a hard-fought 41-39, 25-20, 25-17 victory over North East Collegiate Volleyball Association (NECVA) New England Division foe Wentworth Institute of Technology on Friday night. The Engineers finished atop the New England Division standings with a ledger of 15-1 and an overall mark of 28-6 while the Leopards saw their ledger dip to 20-9 on the year and 10-5 in league play.
MIT returns to action on Friday, April 1 in the first round of the NECVA Championship Tournament held at Stevens Institute of Technology. Wentworth will conclude its season on Saturday, March 25 when its hosts conference foe Endicott College.
The Cardinal and Gray maintained a slight edge during the early stages of the first set but the Leopards stayed within striking distance as an MIT hitting error brought them within one (14-13). The Engineers responded with six straights points; however Wentworth put together a 9-3 spurt to once again close the gap to one (23-22).
A strike by Billy Evans gave the hosts set point, but the Leopards registered the next three to reclaim the lead at 25-24. MIT capitalized on a kill from Ken Siebert and a hitting error to go in front. Following a service error that knotted the set at 26, eight lead changes and 11 set-point opportunities ensued. Ross Burdett's kill gave the Leopards what proved to be their last lead of the game at 39-38 as a pair of Evans' kills and a hitting error sealed the win for MIT.
In the second stanza the Engineers quickly established a 5-1 lead, but Wentworth battled back and evened the score at 11. MIT picked up six of the next nine points to gain some breathing room yet the Leopards countered with a 4-1 spurt to tie the set at 18. The Engineers responded by closing out the game with a 7-2 run.
MIT inched out to a 7-6 advantage in the final set, but Wentworth rattled off seven of the next 11 points to capture the lead. The duo of Mike Buonincontra and Dan Mulvey posted a trio of blocks to go along with two kills apiece while Burdett added a pair of kills. A strike by Garrett Winther sparked the Engineers' 14-4 match closing run.
Siebert finished with 17 kills and six digs as David Thomas notched 15 kills, 11 digs, and three aces. Winther totaled 11 kills and two blocks while Patrick Vatterott recorded 10 kills and four digs. Evans tallied nine kills, four aces, and three blocks as Jeremy Velazquez collected 10 digs. Tim Lee amassed 48 assists and 10 digs while Caine Jette contributed seven digs and four assists.
Burdett paced the Leopards with 13 kills and 11 digs as Derek Portugal racked up nine kills, eight digs, four blocks, and an ace. Buonincontra posted eight digs, seven kills, and three blocks while Lowell Jesmer registered eight kills, two aces, and a block. Mulvey compiled seven kills, five digs, and three blocks as Marc Larue bolstered the defense with nine digs. Tyler Moriarty rounded out the squad with 37 assists and seven digs.