Men’s Volleyball Team Extends Undefeated OpeningBy Charles Morton
The MIT Men’s Volleyball team extended its undefeated opening to the 2005 campaign with a victory over #10-ranked Endicott on Wednesday and swept three other matches over the weekend en route to the championship in its own invitational tournament.
Friday night’s MIT Invitational Tournament opener saw the Engineers sweep Baruch College behind 14 kills from outside hitter Praveen Pamidimukkala ’08 and 11 from middle blocker Robert M. McAndrew ’05. After comfortable margins of 30-20 and 30-24 in the first two games, the Engineers steamrolled the Bearcats with a 30-14 victory punctuated by three consecutive service aces by defensive specialist Jason S. Park ’05 to close the match. Park’s deceptive floating serve befuddled the Baruch passers, as he finished the match with four aces on just twenty attempts.
Saturday morning, MIT handed Bard College a 3-1 defeat, opening strong with wins of 30-19 and 30-26 before dropping a third game by a 25-30 margin. The Engineers regrouped to claim a 30-20 fourth game win behind four blocks from McAndrew, who broke his own school record with 15 total blocks in the match.
Pamidimukkala continued to thrive in Rockwell Cage with a strong offensive performance, contributing 13 kills and hitting at 0.458. McAndrew finished the match with 17 kills, but the overwhelming highlight of the match was the 23 team blocks registered by MIT against the tenacious Raptors.
The Engineers (8-0) claimed the tournament crown later on Saturday thanks to contributions from its freshman class. Ryan G. Dean ’08 dropped 17 kills on just 29 attempts, including a perfect 7-for-7 in the deciding frame against Wentworth (4-3). Pamidimukkala also pounded down 17 balls against the cross-town rivals. Dean anchored the right side of the defense with 11 digs, and Matthew Ng ’08 added nine.
After claiming the first two games of their match with Wentworth by 30-28 margins, MIT faltered in the third, allowing Wentworth to generate momentum and push the match to a fourth game with a 34-32 victory. However, MIT recovered to open up large leads in the fourth game before hanging on for a 30-27 victory that clinched the championship.
Pamidimukkala, with 44 kills in 11 games, was named to the All-Tournament team along with setter Jordan X. Wan ’06, who distributed 128 assists. McAndrew was named MVP after having scored a tournament-high 58 total points.
Wednesday night, the Engineers traveled to Beverly, MA to challenge the Gulls of Endicott, who won all three meetings between the squads in 2004. MIT displayed consistency and poise in the first game, outlasting Endicott 32-30 without scoring any points through blocking. Instead, they triumphed thanks to the balanced offense run by Wan.
MIT continued its smooth play in game two, again edging the Gulls 30-28. This time around, the MIT defense came alive with five blocks in the frame. Endicott was unable to mount a comeback in the third game, in which McAndrew contributed 10 of his match-high 24.5 points with eight kills and four assist blocks. The Engineers cruised to a 30-20 win and a clean sweep of the match to improve to 5-0 overall and 5-0 in the NECVA New England division. McAndrew finished the match with 20 kills and six total blocks.
Tuesday night, The Engineers put their unbeaten record on the line against conference foes Newbury College. The Nighthawks are also enjoying an 8-0 opening to the 2005 season and entered the national poll last week at #15.