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Chargers Beat MIT Men...s Volleyball

By Travis Johnson

A dramatic third game comeback wasn’t enough for MIT Men’s Volleyball (11–3, 5–0 in NECVA) Saturday against visiting New Haven (7–0, 1–0 EIVA), who dominated the other three games to win 3–1.

The first two games were dominated by New Haven as MIT struggled with inconsistency, particularly on defense.

After a closely contested 15–15 start to game 1, MIT made some costly defensive mistakes and unforced errors, allowing two consecutive dumps (where the setter fakes a pass but instead puts the ball over the net) and eventually losing 23–30.

The second game was off to another close start of 11–11, with neither team able to consistently hold their serve and string together consecutive points. Again MIT struggled to keep pace in the middle part of the game, as their defense crumbled and New Haven rattled off five straight points, forcing MIT Coach Paul Dill to call a timeout.

Following the timeout, the Engineers were able to break serve and play even with the Chargers for eight points. But offensive breakdowns, including a bad set by Jordan X. Wan ‘06 after a near collision with Alex L. Borschow ’06, cost MIT as New Haven went on another run to close out the game 21–30.

The third game looked to be d j vu for MIT, as New Haven pulled ahead 12–20 on mistake-free offense and tough blocking. Just as fans checked their watch and wondering what was next on their schedule, the Engineers turned it around.

The comeback was on in earnest when a long point ended with an MIT block, cut the deficit to 5 at 19–24.

With the crowd behind them, MIT played their best volleyball of the afternoon, digging every hit and capitalizing on Charger mistakes.

With another long volleyball followed by an ace, the comeback was complete at 27–27.

On the next point, Praveen Pamidimukkala ’08 yelled out “watch the dump.” As expected, New Haven setter Kevin Goncalves tried exactly that, but thanks to Pamidimukkala’s warning, MIT blocked the dump for the first time all afternoon and took their first lead of the game 28–27.

For the next 15 minutes, both teams played intense and exciting volleyball. With the teams trading points, the game was tied at 29, 30, 31, 32, and 33 before a hit by Pamidimukkala and an unassisted block by Ryan Dean ’08 gave MIT the game 35–33.

The fourth game was only competitive in the early going, as New Haven recovered its dominating attack and cruised to a 30–18 victory that also sealed the match.

The match was the last of the MIT invitational tournament. Earlier in the tournament MIT defeated Purchase, Bard, and Philadelphia Biblical, giving them a 3–1 record good enough for third place in the tournament, behind Emmanuel College and New Haven.

Pamidimukkala was the only MIT player to get All-Tournament team honors.