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Endicott Invitational Taxes MIT Volleyball

By Paul Dill

TEAM COACH

The varsity men’s volleyball team closed out a strong weekend, finishing sixth in the 12 team Endicott College Invitational Tournament. The tournament is the largest collegiate men’s volleyball tournament in the country and featured several nationally ranked teams.

In their first match, MIT faced Hunter College who was ranked tenth in the 32 team New England Collegiate Volleyball Association Conference. After a slow start which saw the Engineers lose the first game, MIT took control of the match behind the strong hitting of Rob M. McAndrew ’05 and Kabir J. Mukaddam ’05, who led the team with 22 and 11 kills, respectively. MIT took the next three games to win the match 3-1 and complete their first upset of the tournament. The win was also the team’s tenth win of the season, marking the first ten win season for the program since 1993.

The next match saw MIT take on D’Youville College (ranked sixth in NECVA). The Engineers put up a strong fight and managed to steal a game from the strong D’Youville squad behind the defensive prowess of Libero (the specialized defensive player) Hao Hu ’04, who led the team with 16 defensive digs. In the end, the Engineers could not counter the strong offense of the opposition and fell 1-3.

On day two of the tournament, the Engineers played one of their best matches of the season when they took on #15 nationally ranked Ramapo College. A strong team performance, especially on defense, confounded the Ramapo hitters and created many scoring opportunities which the Engineers took full advantage of. After winning the first two games 30-25, 30-27, MIT found themselves down 24-26 in the third game. The team never gave up and came back to close out the game 30-28 and the match 3-0. Bob Aspell ’06 hit .600 for the match and outside hitters Javad Golji ’06 and Michelangelo A. Raimondi ’06 added six and five kills, respectively.

The final match of the tournament against conference rival Endicott College saw an extremely tired MIT squad fight hard but come up short losing 0-3. All the games were close in part because of the setting of Jordan X. Wan ’06, who dished out 46 assists in the effort, and McAndrew who put down 23 kills from everywhere on the court.

Overall, the Engineers finished in the silver bracket of the tournament and earned much respect for the program with their gutsy performances over the weekend. McAndrew earned All-Tournament honors for his solid play throughout the tournament.

The weekend results put MIT at 11-11 overall for the season and 8-7 in conference. Their final match of the season will be against Harvard University in MIT’s du Pont Gymnasium on Tuesday, March 16 at 7 p.m.