Volleyball Finishes Off Season with 14-11 RecordBy Mike Markmiller
With a third place finish at the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Division III championship last Saturday, the men's varsity volleyball team capped off a successful 14-11 season. After breezing by Eastern Mennonite College in the first round, the Engineers lost to rivals Juniata College, the heavily favored home team. Hard-fought rallies and swings in momentum characterized the five-game, two-and-a-half hour match.
In their decisive victory against Eastern Mennonite, outside hitters Danny Alvarez '93 and Tom Klemas G led the attack with 13 and 19 kills respectively. They exploited holes in EMC's block, which struggled to respond to setter Satoshi Asari's deceptive playmaking. Unable to mount an effective attack, EMC lost the first game 15-6. The second game went much like the first, with middle blocker Chris Chong '94 and hitter Miguel Valle '93 joining the attack. Several key digs by Alvarez sustained MIT's momentum to a 15-11 win. In the third game, EMC found its groove and pulled out to a 12-6 lead. Coach Cindy Gregory reinvigorated the team and the Engineers went on to win the match 15-12.
Moving on to Juniata College, the Engineers faced a much tougher opponent in a match that saw both teams playing at their highest levels. The local fans, who expected an easy win instead witnessed a grueling struggle that showed no sign of a victor until the final minutes.
After ten minutes of back and forth sideouts, the first game score was only 3-3. MIT, one of the best transition attack teams in the league, was keeping Juniata's defense from scoring points. Strong serving prevailed, and MIT suffered a 15-4 loss. In the second game, spark plug Juan Ramos '93 came in and immediately blasted a ball straight down Juniata's block. The team, infused with a new energy, pushed on to a 15-10 win.
The Engineers then sprinted out to an 8-0 lead against the stunned home team. Chong and Brian Vandenbosch '93 executed picture-perfect solo blocks, sending Juniata's best efforts crashing to the floor. Ted Kim '93, when receiving serves turned thunderous jump serves into loopy rainbows directed into Asari's waiting hands. Digs by backrow player Michael Markmiller '94 set up two more Engineer points, making the game 12-1. The next three points soon followed, and Juniata fans were shaking their heads in disbelief.
Juniata did turn around to win the fourth game, putting the match into a fifth, rally-scoring game. MIT held strong, but a few shanked passes and hitting errors left them down 8-4 at the change of sides. In addition, changes in Juniata's lineup forced MIT's blockers to adapt to new hitters, and the door was closed and MIT fell 15-7.
Overall, the Engineers' surpassed the expectations of many, including perhaps themselves. Their 14-11 record is the best in several years, and Klemas, Alvarez, and Asari all won individual honors from the league.