SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – In its annual meeting with in-state rival Springfield College, the nationally-ranked No. 3 MIT men's volleyball team fell to the No. 4 Pride, 26-24, 25-16, 25-20, on Wednesday night. Senior Kenny Siebert (St. Louis, Mo.) and junior Andrew Busse (Mount Prospect, Ill.) paced the Engineers (13-3) with eight kills apiece as Busse finished with a .467 hitting performance and two blocks.
Senior Paul Syta (Fairport, N.Y.) tallied 17 assists, seven digs, and five kills while freshman Aaron Zalewski (Buffalo Grove, Ill.) recorded five kills, a .667 hitting percentage, and two blocks. Junior Alex Klein (San Diego, Calif.) also tacked on five kills as sophomore Brendan Chang (Laytonsville, Md.) and freshman Jordan Lucier (Torrance, Calif.) both produced five digs. Senior Evan Wang (Saratoga, Calif.) rounded out the Cardinal and Gray with 10 assists.
Springfield registered the first five points of the opening set before holding a 12-5 advantage. MIT responded with a 10-3 run as a Siebert kill evened the score at 15. Following its own timeout, the Pride picked up the next three points; however, the Engineers battled back to come within one (21-20) courtesy of a hitting error. An exchange of points ensued as a hitting miscue gave Springfield set point at 24-22. Busse produced a kill and then collaborated with freshman Martin Krasuski (Aurora, Ill.) on a block to tie the frame. The hosts then capitalized on a hitting error and block to end the set.
In the second stanza, MIT inched out to a 3-1 lead after an ace by Zalewski but the Pride countered with four unanswered points go in front. A strike by Busse helped the Engineers stay close as they later trailed, 9-7. Springfield gradually pulled away with its margin growing to 17-11; however a service error and a kill by Syta kept MIT within striking distance. The Pride replied by going on an 8-3 run to close out the frame.
The hosts picked up the first three points of the third set and maintained a small cushion until a kill by Zalewski and a Springfield hitting error closed the gap to 11-9. The Pride then mounted a 9-2 run to establish its largest margin of the frame. MIT slowly chipped away at the deficit as a Siebert kill narrowed the lead to five (23-18). A service error resulted in match point but strikes by Busse and Syta kept the Engineers alive. Springfield, however, thwarted the comeback attempt with a kill to secure the victory.
MIT returns to United Volleyball Conference action this weekend at Elmira College. On Saturday, March 8, the Engineers will take on Hilbert College before facing Medaille College and Penn State – Behrend the following day.