March 19, 2008
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The nationally-ranked No. 10 MIT men's volleyball team extended its winning streak to four following a 22-30, 30-26, 30-28, 30-27 victory over cross-town rival Harvard University on Wednesday night. The Engineers (22-10) picked up their first win over the Crimson (7-9) since 1999 and their 13th in 44 meetings since the series began in 1986.
MIT established a 5-1 advantage in the opening game, but Harvard slowly chipped away at the deficit and eventually tied the score at seven. The contest became a back-and-forth affair as it featured seven ties and five lead changes with the Engineers emerging with a 15-14 edge. The Crimson recorded five of the next six points however MIT continued to attack and trailed by two (20-18). Harvard countered with a 10-4 run to close out the frame.
In the second stanza, the Engineers created a 13-7 lead. The Crimson responded with an 8-1 run, which featured back-to-back aces by Gil Weintraub. A strike from MIT's Praveen Pamidimukkala knotted the game at 15 before a series of five ties and three lead changes. A Crimson hitting miscue ignited a three-point spurt that put the Engineers up, 23-21. Erik Kuld's kill cut Harvard's deficit in half and set off an exchange of points that kept the visitors within one (24-23). A kill and block by Garrett Winther gave MIT some breathing room and prompted a timeout by the Crimson. Following the break, Harvard converted a service error and stayed within two points as late as 28-26. Malcolm Bean's kill set up game point as the Engineers sealed the game on the ensuing serve.
The Cardinal and Gray posted eight out of the first 10 points in the third game and later held a 15-7 advantage. Harvard narrowed the gap to two (17-15) courtesy of an 8-2 run however MIT countered with four straight points. The Crimson quickly cut its deficit in half (21-18) but the Engineers scored five out of the next six points to increase their cushion. Harvard continued to attack as a tough jump-serve by Brady Weissbourd resulted in eight unanswered points and a 27-26 lead. MIT did not back down, as it reached game point on a pair of Crimson miscues and a kill from Scott Pollom. A service error extended the frame for Harvard, but a blast from Pamidimukkala ended any chance of a late rally.
In the final game, Harvard inched out to a 6-3 lead. The Engineers posted the next five points on strong serving from Pamidimukkala. The see-saw battle returned until a kill from Soren Rosier and a block by Jamie Crooks and Weissbourd put the Crimson ahead, 18-16. Harvard maintained the slight edge before strikes by Pamidimukkala and Winther coupled with a Crimson attack attempt that hit the antenna returned the lead to the Engineers. Kuld's kill tied the game at 23, but MIT answered with three straight points capped off with a block from Bean. Harvard ended the run on a Crooks' hit off of an Engineers' block, which was followed by an exchange of points. Wiinther and Weissbourd used the blocking to pick up points for their respective teams and make the score 28-26. MIT reached match point on a blast from Michael Demyttenaere but a service error kept the Crimson alive. The Engineers capitalized on their next opportunity as a strike from Demyttenaere ricocheted off of a Harvard player and sailed out of bounds to wrap up the match.
Pamidimukkala finished with 15 kills, six digs, three blocks, and three aces as Bean posted 10 kills. Winther notched 10 kills and four digs while Steve Ray registered two aces. Pollom and Demyttenaere each tallied nine kills as Pollom recorded three blocks. Ryan Dean totaled 48 assists, seven digs, and five blocks while Kenneth Rosche bolstered MIT's attack with four kills in one game. Eugene Jang led the defense with nine digs, followed by eight from Eric Reuland and four from Matthew Ng.
Both teams will continue play on the road. MIT will travel to Mount Ida College on Thursday, March 20 while Harvard will make the trip to Sacred Heart University on Friday, March 28.