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Intercollegiate Volleyball Club Teams Play Well in MIT Tourney

By Koji Asari
Team Member

Last Sunday MIT hosted the annual New England Collegiate Volleyball League's Open tournament.

The tournament was originally scheduled for Feb. 5, but was postponed due to snow. Due to the revised date, many teams were not able to attend. This resulted in relatively small tournament of only 16 teams instead of the 30 teams that usually attend the Open.

The MIT Intercollegiate Volleyball Club fielded two teams with the Ateam seeded first in the tournament. It started off the day by playing Amherst College. IVCA continued its tendency of getting off to slow starts with a less than impressive performance in the first game.

A lack of aggressiveness and continuous errors in passing, setting, and hitting by IVCA made it a close game. In the end, MIT barely squeaked by with a 1715 win to start off the tournament. MIT also won the second game against Amherst.

IVCA's next opponent in pool play was the second team from Northeastern University. The Huskies' second team proved to be no match for the Engineers as MIT had already beaten NU's first team decisively a few weeks earlier in a regular season match.

In this game, outside hitter Tom Klemas G was able to exploit the small block of NU's setter by continuously pounding the ball down the line over and around the block. IVCA won both games easily.

MITA next faced the team from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Solid offense out of the middle from Kent Sorenson G helped IVCA to two more victories in pool play.

In a unique pool play format, the round robin was to be repeated, with the teams playing only one game this time instead of two. As a result, MITA faced Amherst College again. Having already been warmed up from the previous games, Amherst no longer posed a threat to IVCA's undefeated pool play record. IVCA won the game and improved its pool play record to 70.

Northeastern II and WPI fell to IVCA in similar fashion, highlighted by 9 straight points off of a barrage of powerful jump serves by Klemas against NU. IVCA ended pool play with a perfect 90 record.

Elimination rounds

In the quarterfinal match, IVCA again faced WPI. IVCA quickly disposed of the overmatched WPI team to enter the semifinals.

In the semis, IVCA met the first team from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who had finished fourth in pool play. Although the Engineers did not play to its potential, they pulled out the victory by a score of 1510, 159, earning them a berth in the finals.

The finals pitted IVCA against the University of Connecticut. The two teams had met once before in a preseason tournament at Boston College last November. At BC, MIT pulled out both games, in a hotly contested match. Knowing the potential of the UConn team, MIT finally showed its true colors playing a flawless match in the finals.

Incredible defense and a relentless offense kept the potentially dangerous UConn team at bay. After a series of points by MIT had built a commanding lead, UConn called timeout to set up a play for a much needed sideout.

On the play following the timeout, the UConn setter gave their outside hitter a quick "shoot" set which left the MIT blockers still rooted to the ground. Seeing an opportunity to kill the ball on the open net, the UConn hitter cranked on the ball.

However, a great defensive play by Parry J.R. Husbands G saved the point for MIT as he dug the ball seemingly effortlessly right into the hands of setter Koji Asari '96 who set Klemas for the kill and yet another point for MIT.

The great number of similar plays where a good UConn attack was stopped and converted into MIT points frustrated and demoralized the UConn team who dropped the first game to MITA 152.

IVCA continued its good play in game two shutting down UConn's potent offense with good blocking by middle blockers Sorenson and Brian Vanden Bosch '93. When UConn would finally sideout and serve, MIT would quickly get the serve back, denying UConn any points. Husbands came alive on offense and defense with a number of good digs and hard kills on confused and scattered UConn blocks. MIT won the second game decisively 153, thus earning the championship.

IVCB team's performance

Meanwhile, IVC's Bteam started off pool play against the Wentworth Institute of Technology. Both games were closely contested as the teams split. IVCB dropped the first 1215 and won the second 1513. IVCB then went on to defeat Bates College twice, improving their record to 31.

Its third opponent was UMass-Amherst. IVCB played extremely well with good blocking by middle hitters Phil Le '95 and A.J. McFarland G. Scrappy defense and lots of hustle earned IVCB a win against a strong UMass team. Good play continued for the Engineers in their second game against UMass with strong blocking from Kurt Zala '95 and relentless defense from outside hitter Gene Van Buren G.

However, it was not enough to beat UMass, as IVCB dropped the game. IVCB split the next two pool play matches leaving it in a situation where it needed to win its last pool play game to qualify for the playoffs.

The team faced UMass again in a do-or-die situation. Playing up to the challenge, IVCB led UMass 1311. However, a surging UMass team left IVCB with a painfully close loss. All was not lost however, since IVCB and WIT still had the same record.

They were to play a one game tiebreaker to determine who would advance to the playoffs. Still a bit flustered after the close loss to UMass, IVCB started the game off slowly letting WIT build a commanding lead before IVCB started its comeback. It proved too little too late as IVCB sustained yet another close loss by the score of 1510.

The tournament was a good showing for the IVC Ateam, who took home the trophy, and for the Bteam, who although a bit inconsistent, showed that it could play with the best.