CHICOPEE, Mass. – On the strength of a balanced attack, the nationally-ranked No. 13 MIT men's volleyball team defeated Elms College, 25-15, 25-8, 25-18, on Thursday night. With the win, the Engineers improved to 3-3 on the year while the Blazers suffered their first loss of the season which lowered their ledger to 4-1.
Junior Ken Siebert (St. Louis, Mo.) tallied eight kills, a .412 hitting percentage, four aces, and four digs while senior Matt Hohenberger (St. Louis, Mo.) posted seven kills, four digs, and two blocks for MIT. Senior Patrick Vatterott (St. Louis, Mo.) registered five kills and two aces as freshman Tavish Smith (Oceanside, Calif.) connected on four of his five hitting attempts and added three blocks. Junior Paul Syta (Fairport, N.Y.) compiled 26 assists, five digs, four kills, and four blocks while sophomore Chris Omahan (Mount Vernon, Ohio) tacked on two aces. Freshman Brendan Chang (Laytonsville, Md.) powered the defense with a match-high 12 digs.
Elms built a 4-1 lead to open the night but the Engineers generated a 14-3 run courtesy of Siebert's strong serving. MIT maintained a comfortable cushion throughout the set as the Blazers trimmed the deficit to seven on five occasions, the last at 21-14. The Cardinal and Gray picked up the next three points as a Siebert ace resulted in set point. A hitting error extended the frame but Vatterott replied with a kill to give the visitors the win.
The Engineers carried the momentum into the second stanza as they recorded the first nine points, capped by a Vatterott ace. An Elms kill ended the run and led to an exchange of points that moved the score to 15-5. MIT went on to record 13 of the final 16 points as it clinched the set on a strike from Omahan.
The early stages of the third set were closely played as it featured five ties before kills from Syta and Hohenberger along with a Vatterott ace put the Engineers in front, 10-7. The Blazers picked up the next two points but this was as close as they would get as Hohenberger and sophomore Andrew Busse (Mount Prospect, Ill.) helped ignite an 11-3 run that established a 21-12 lead. The rally began with a four-point spurt that saw Hohenberger earn a pair of kills as Busse added one of his own while the duo collaborated for a block.
Despite the deficit, Elms continued to attack and narrowed the gap to five (22-17). Freshman Andrew Hochstadt (Roselle, Ill.) and Hohenberger thwarted the comeback attempt by registering a block as a hitting miscue by the Blazers resulted in match point. A serving error kept Elms alive but an errant attack by the hosts gave the Engineers the victory.
MIT returns to tournament action this weekend when it travels to Nazareth College for the Golden Flyer Invitational. The Engineers will face No. 11 Medaille College and Elmira College on Saturday, Feb. 2 before taking on Southern Vermont College and host No. 5 Nazareth the next day.