No. 6 Engineers Outlast No. 1 New Paltz in Five-Set Win

Junior Alex Klein and freshman Aaron Zalewski
Junior Alex Klein and freshman Aaron Zalewski

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In a back-and-forth battle with nationally-ranked No. 1 SUNY New Paltz, the No. 6 MIT men's volleyball team registered a 25-22, 23-25, 25-22, 17-25, 16-14 victory on Tuesday night. Senior Kenny Siebert (St. Louis, Mo.) paced the Engineers (12-2, 6-1 UVC) with a match-high 18 kills on a .536 hitting performance to go along with six digs, three blocks, and an ace. The Hawks (13-2, 5-1 UVC) saw four players reach double-digits in kills with freshman Steven Woessner (Massapequa Park, N.Y.) and sophomore Tim Ferriter (Rochester, N.Y.) leading the way with 13 apiece.

MIT gradually established a 17-10 advantage in the first set but New Paltz put together a 5-1 spurt to stay within striking distance. The Engineers picked up three of the next four points on errors as a Siebert ace increased their margin to 22-16. Back-to-back kills from sophomore Christopher Husmann (Massapequa, N.Y.) sparked a rally that saw the Hawks come within one (23-22) on a block by Husmann and junior John Lutjen (Smithtown, N.Y.). MIT responded with a strike by junior Andrew Busse (Mount Prospect, Ill.) and then clinched the set on a New Paltz hitting miscue.

The Cardinal jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the second stanza. Fueled by strong serving from Ferriter, which included two aces, the Hawks rattled off four straight points and eventually went ahead, 10-7. MIT slowly mounted an 11-5 run as a block by Siebert and freshman Aaron Zalewski (Buffalo Grove, Ill.) gave it an 18-15 edge. New Paltz replied with its second 9-3 streak of the frame, reaching set point on a Husmann block. A kill from junior Alex Klein (San Diego, Calif.) coupled with a hitting error extended the frame but Ferriter thwarted the late rally with a strike of his own.

The early stages of the third set were closely played as it featured two lead changes and eight ties as a Siebert kill evened the score at 11. The Hawks used a Husmann kill and an MIT hitting error to gain some breathing room before creating a 15-12 lead. The Engineers battled back, capitalizing on a Zalewski-Klein block to knot the frame at 17. An exchange of points ensued until a kill from Siebert and an attacking miscue put MIT up, 20-19, and prompted a timeout by the visitors. Following the break, the back-and-forth affair resumed but a pair of errors pushed the Engineers ahead to 23-21. Coming out of its final timeout New Paltz cut its deficit in half on a Woessner blast; however, a Zalewski kill and a ball-handling error by the Hawks gave the hosts the win.

New Paltz built a 10-7 lead in the fourth set that was narrowed to one point on two occasions, the last at 12-11 on a service error. The Hawks responded by going on a 13-6 run to finish off the frame and force a fifth set.

In the final set, MIT raced out to an 8-3 advantage as kill by Siebert resulted in the changeover. After switching ends, New Paltz registered six of the next eight points with a strike from sophomore Christian Smith (Massapequa, N.Y.) closing the gap to 10-9. After a timeout by the Engineers, both sides traded points until a Hawks' hitting error and a Zalewski gave MIT match point at 14-11. Husmann countered by generating three straight kills to even the frame and force the Engineers to use their last timeout. Once action resumed, a hitting miscue kept MIT in front while a block by Busse and Klein secured the victory.

Klein recorded eight kills and five blocks as Busse posted eight blocks and six kills. Zalewski also registered eight blocks in addition to five kills while freshman Martin Krasuski (Aurora, Ill.) bolstered the attack with seven kills. Senior Paul Syta (Fairport, N.Y.) tallied 31 assists, 12 digs, and three blocks as classmate Evan Wang (Saratoga, Calif.) notched 12 assists, and five digs. Sophomore Brendan Chang (Laytonsville, Md.) rounded out the squad with nine digs.

Woessner finished with four blocks as Ferriter totaled seven digs and two aces in addition to their team-high attacking performance. Husmann produced 11 kills and six blocks while senior Victor Tuminelli (Dix Hills, N.Y.) collected a match-high 16 digs. Smith compiled 28 assists, 11 kills, six digs, and four blocks as Lutjen racked up 25 assists, 10 digs, and three blocks.

Next up for MIT will be a home match against non-conference foe Elms College on Thursday, Feb. 27. New Paltz returns to action on Saturday, March 1 when it will face No. 2 Juniata College and Thiel College at Vassar College before hosting Vassar and Dominican University the next day.