MIT men's volleyball lost the first game to Johnson & Wales University Wednesday night at Rockwell Cage, but calmly and methodically won the next three for a 26-30, 30-25, 30-22, 30-28 victory.
On their way to the triumph, two Engineers set significant milestones for the men's volleyball program. With a personal-best 20 digs, Ryan G. Dean '08 now stands alone as the Institute's all-time leader with 815 career digs, while six-foot, seven-inch Michael Demyttenaere '10 contributed five blocks to set a new MIT record for blocks in a season with 140.
Demyttenaere and fellow middle hitter Thomas S. Pollom '09 are already well on their way to rewriting the record books in career blocks. Despite being underclassmen, both are over halfway towards the career record.
The fourth game of the match was the most exciting, as MIT (25-5, 10-0) trailed for the majority of the game before taking its first lead at 25-24. The lead widened to 26-24 on a controversial point when the referee overruled the line judge, ruling that a ball was not tipped on its way out of bounds. This appeared to inspire the Wildcats (8-15, 4-4), who were able to fight their way back to a 27-27 tie, but Praveen Pamidimukkala '08 provided the final two kills of the match for MIT to avoid a fifth game.
Pamidimukkala led the Engineers with 24 kills, as his spikes often met little resistance from the Johnson & Wales blockers. He finished with a huge .431 hitting percentage, followed closely by Kenneth K. Rosche '08, who had a season-best 14 kills and a .428 hitting percentage.
The first three games of the match provided little drama. In the first game, the Wildcats took the lead for good at 5-4, as the Engineers were slightly lethargic coming out of the gate. MIT's hitters attempted a number of finesse tips and seemed to be trying to place their spikes, and it was not until the second game that Tech's power game took over.
Johnson & Wales never held a lead in the second game. After a 10-10 tie, the Engineers kept the Wildcats at bay, maintaining at least a two-point advantage for the rest of the game following a Pamidimukkala kill for a 13-11 lead.
In the third game, the Engineers took advantage of a number of unforced errors by the Wildcats to turn a 20-18 lead into a comfortable 30-22 win.
The Engineers, ranked No. 11 nationally, will take their unblemished NorthEast Collegiate Volleyball Association record to the conference tournament next weekend.