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Men's Volleyball Team Captures Second in Tourney

By Thomas Klemas
team coach

The men's varsity volleyball team took second place in the 1997 Rivier College Invitational Tournament on Saturday to improve their season record to 813.

On Saturday, the Engineers traveled to Nashua, N.H. for the Rivier Tournament. The opening matchup saw the Engineers dominate every aspect of play against a hapless Rivier College team (150, 155, 1510), behind the powerful hitting of Jesper Jensen '97 (.800, 3 service aces) and Dave Lehman '97 (.710).

The second match featured a rematch between the Engineers and Ramapo College, which MIT defeated 32 during the Vassar Tournament in February. Some of the physical and emotional fatigue from the previous night's State University of New York at New Paltz contest began to show during this match, as Ramapo took the first game 1512.

The Engineers recovered some composure and took the second game 1513 but dropped the third by the same score as Ramapo was still riding the high of taking the opening game.

However, MIT seemed to regain control of the match during the fourth game, to win it, 1614. The Engineers, smelling another dramatic fifth-game victory, overcame early deficits to win 1513 to advance to the playoffs behind the play of Mike Margetts '99 (19 kills) and Charles Morton '97 (10 blocks).

In the semifinals, the Engineers faced Johnson and Wales University. Fueled by the prospect of playing for the tournament championship, the Engineers pounded Johnson and Wales 153 and 157 in the first two games, behind the team's aggressive serving led by five aces from Stan Hong '99 and three each from James Hsiao '99 and Morton.

The Engineers dropped the third game 1511 but recovered to win the fourth 159 behind clutch hitting from Lehman and Margetts (20 kills) and aggressive blocking from Morton and swing hitter Hans Robertson '99.

The Engineers managed to battle Roger Williams University, which is ranked 10th in Division III, during the finals, as both teams were exhausted from the day's play. MIT benefitted from stellar offense from Lehman (9 kills, .667) and Robertson's 12-kill debut at outside hitter but had trouble digging RWU's powerful hitters, allowing RWU to sideout at will and keep the Engineers off of the scoreboard. Margetts (9 kills) and Morton (8 kills, 6 blocks) also contributed for the Engineers, who fell in three sets (1512, 1510, 159) to claim second place.

The Engineers were disappointed with not taking home the championship trophy but were pleased with one of their most impressive tournament showings in several years, highlighted by Lehman and Morton being named to the all-tournament team.

Margetts and Morton continue to be among the leaders in kills and blocking, respectively, as Margetts has averaged 4.49 kills per game to be ranked 12th in the nation and Morton has averaged 1.36 blocks per game for a eighth-place ranking.

MIT defeated Friday by rival

The Engineers' performance Rivier College Invitational Tournament was a rebound from Friday night's heartbreaking loss to the State University of New York College at New Paltz.

SUNY-New Paltz was ranked seventh in Division III and had won two major 1997 tournaments. The marathon match against SUNY, which went the full five sets and lasted nearly three hours, saw the Engineers jump on top of SUNY during the first two games, to win 1512 and 1511 behind double-double performances of outside hitter Margetts (35 kills, 16 digs, 9 blocks), middle blocker Morton (12 kills, 10 blocks), and setter Hong (18 digs, 76 assists).

Outstanding defensive play from Margetts, Lehman, Hsiao, and Hong really contributed to the upset victories in the first two games. The entire team stepped up its defense to a whole new level, continuing its trend of improvement, but SUNY managed to fight off three Engineer match points during the third game and win 1715.

The final two games were see-saw battles, as both teams struggled to maintain the momentum, but the Engineers were unable to overcome a virtually error-free SUNY performance, and SUNY took the last two games (1513, 1513), despite outstanding offensive numbers from opposite hitter Hsiao (10 kills, .529 hitting percentage), outside hitter Jensen (12 kills), and middle blocker Lehman (10 kills). MIT's tip coverage was weak in two rotations which allowed a SUNY opponent to exploit it.

The loss dropped the Engineers to 14 in Odeneal Conference play, essentially eliminating them from conference playoffs despite a challenging schedule which featured five of the top 10 Division III teams in the country.

The Engineers close their season tomorrow night at 7 p.m. against rival Harvard University at Harvard's Malkin Athletic Center, in a rematch of the closely contested, Feb. 8 matchup that saw Harvard defeat MIT 31.