MIT, traditionally competitive with Harvard in academics and prestige, also proved itself to be a worthy opponent on the volleyball court last night.
The Harvard men's volleyball team survived a lackluster performance and heckling fans to edge the Engineers (5-6, 1-3 EIVA) in five games (11-15, 15-12, 5-15, 15-3, 15-13), maintaining a perfect league record.
During warm-ups in MIT's Dupont Gymnasium, the Crimson (5-1, 3-0) appeared well rested and ready to play. Pre-game serving was crisp and automatic, passes were accurate and Harvard ran its set plays to perfection.
As the first game began, this steady execution continued. The Crimson rolled to an early 5-1 lead behind solid kills from co-captain Ed Pankau and junior outside hitter Brian Stevenson.
The two familiar demons for the Crimson this year, service errors and skimpy floor defense, unraveled Harvard's lead as MIT surged ahead to a 6-5 lead.
As opposed to their last match against Eastern Mennonite University, in which the Crimson had a season-high .921 serving percentage, Harvard had six service errors in the first game. Harvard Coach Tom Wilson called a time out to regroup his players, but the MIT onslaught continued.
After MIT extended its lead to 11-8, the Engineers turned up their defensive intensity and stifled the Crimson attack.
"MIT played excellent floor defense early on, which frustrated our outside hitters and disrupted out offensive rhythm," Wilson said.