Men's Volleyball Starts Against Tough TeamsMelissa Ronge and Tom Klemas
The volleyball team started the year out slowly, losing their first two matches to Eastern Menonite and NJIT. Then the Engineers roared out to two wins over Rivier and WIT.
In the first match against EMU, MIT got off to a strong start, winning the first five points. However, first-match butterflies led to a number of errors which allowed EMU back into the game. MIT served out a number of times and dug about five balls that were going to land out. EMU eventually won this hard-fought game.
The next game MIT took by serving tough and playing tough defense against the taller EMU team. Min Pont Chien '98 set aggressively keeping the other team's defense off guard and had a match total of 37 assists. Leandro Burnes '98 had 18 kills during the match.
The third game was also a hard-fought match, but the EMU hitters started taking advantage of the size mismatch in MIT's block, allowing them to win. In the final game, MIT let up a bit, allowing EMU to win easily.
"I felt MIT could have won," said men's head coach Tom Klemas. "We outplayed our opponent, but their size gave them some leeway. If we are going to beat bigger teams, we cannot afford to make any mistakes. Hopefully, we learned this lesson today."
In the second match, against NJIT, MIT lost in three straight games to a bigger and better NJIT team. Coach Klemas said, "MIT played well, but against a bigger team which is just as skilled or more than you, the only way you can win is on heart, and if the other team plays with just as much intensity, they will win."
Joe Bretton '96 inspired the rest of the team with some tough defense, but the opponent was too strong for the MIT team at this point in the season.
In the final match of the day, MIT beat Rivier College. The match was somewhat disappointing because MIT dropped a game even though it was much stronger. However, the Engineers played all 14 of its players during the match, giving some valuable varsity experience to some of the newer players.
Summarizing the varsity's first matches, Klemas said, "EMU and NJIT are from higher conferences and represent two of the stronger programs in the country.... MIT made these teams play well to beat us, and if our play this weekend was any indication, we are headed in the right direction."
When MIT traveled to WIT, the match was much closer but a win nonetheless. This match was not about domination of a couple of players, but complete team play. Long Phan '98 was a consistent server and two key blocks to seal the third game.
David Lehman '97 was a big hitter and error-free in hits. Chien was once again a leader on the floor through his consistent serves and spreading his sets around. John Dukellis '99 came off the bench late in the third game and had five good serves to help seal the victory.
Charles Morton '97 led the team in the second game with four kills and a couple of blocks. The biggest story was Bretton who stopped up to be the team's leading server and passer while still adding eight kills to the offense.