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Men’s Varsity Volleyball Team Continues Undefeated Season

By Charles Morton

ASSISTANT COACH

The MIT Men’s Varsity Volleyball team, fresh off being voted fifteenth in the most recent Division III national rankings, clinched the best start in the program’s history with a 3-1 win over Newbury (8-1, 3-1 NECVA New England).

The Engineers became the nation’s only remaining undefeated team, extending their record to 9-0 with a 6-0 conference record, thanks to 23 kills from middle blocker Robert M. McAndrew ’05 and 13 from outside hitter Praveen Pamidimukkala ’08.

Newbury also entered Tuesday night’s match 8-0 and claimed the first game 30-21 as the Engineers struggled to generate rhythm against a team they had just displaced from the national rankings. Nine MIT service errors in the opening frame allowed the Nighthawks to escape with minimal effort, even though Pamidimukkala and middle blocker Robert G. Aspell ’06 were very effective offensively with three kills each.

However, the Engineers regained their poise and ball control to take the second game by a comfortable 30-22 margin. Outside hitter Michelangelo A. Raimondi ’06 scored four kills on seven swings in the game and added two blocks to pace the Engineer scoring, while opposite Ryan G. Dean ’08 ignited the defense with four digs.

Efficiency in all departments helped the Engineers to a 30-23 game three victory, with McAndrew scoring six kills and Dean adding six digs en route to his team-high total of 14. MIT blasted three aces in the third game against only one error, while setter Jordan X. Wan ’06 dished out 17 of his 56 assists as the Engineers overwhelmed the Nighthawk defense with attacks from all areas of the court.

The fourth game saw the Engineers relinquish some momentum to a noisy Newbury side desperate to preserve their perfect record, but McAndrew’s nine kills and seven digs allowed the Engineers to recapture control of the game before timely blocking from Dean, Aspell, and Pamidimukkala clinched a 30-25 win.

Aspell finished the game with eight kills on just 10 swings, with a season-high 0.700 hitting performance. Defensive specialists Jason S. Park ’05 and Matthew Ng ’08 handled the bulk of the Engineer serve receive, passing 53 of 87 receptions and allowing just one ace.

The freshman class continues to drive the Engineers’ success. Pamidimukkala, named NECVA New England Player of the Week on February 8, finished the match with a team-high five blocks and extended his team-high season hitting average to 0.367, while Ng added seven digs, tying Dean for the team lead with 81 on the season.

MIT looks to continue their undefeated run this Saturday against Rivier and Elms.