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Men's Spikers Beat MIT, But It's Ugly

By Eric R. French

Despite a win on Tuesday, the Harvard men's volleyball team had reason to complain.

In its meeting February 7, Harvard dominated MIT 3-0, but in the teams' most recent match, the Engineers challenged the Crimson, losing in four close games.

Harvard felt that it was clearly the more talented team; however, the score (14-16, 15-13, 15-13, 15-13) barely reflected this.

"We should have won much more easily," senior Ryan Westendorf said. "We were a much better team than they were."

The Crimson entered the match remembering the February meeting, but Tuesday's match was another story. After staying even with the Engineers at first, Harvard dropped the first game 14-16.

The Crimson entered the second game seeking retribution but were denied as the Engineers surged ahead.

"After the first game a lot of people were upset," said freshman Dave Michaels. "We wanted to come out strong in the second game, but we still fell behind."

However, following a timeout by coach Ihsan Gurdal and several substitutions, the Crimson managed to squeak out a 15-13 win. Harvard hung on to win the final two games by a score of 15-13 in each but not after having to come from behind in both games.

Sophomore Ryan Oliver proved to be the catalyst the sparked the Crimson to its come from behind wins. Oliver, second on the team in total kills, has been one of the few consistent forces for the team this season.

"One of the big problems of the team has been lack of consistency," Westerndorf said. "All in all it has been a disappointing season."

Michaels agreed, but also cited other factors as reasons for Harvard's lack of success.

"I think that it is tough to point to one problem this year," Michaels said. "One main problem is that we have no go-to guy. No one that we can consistently count on."

Despite the disappointments of the season, the Crimson remain optimistic about the remainder of the season. It has two regular season matches before it heads into the Ivy League tournament.

Harvard hopes that it is beginning to come together as a team just in time for the tournament.

"The team has really clicked recently and I think we are nearing the point where we will start to improve rapidly," Michaels said. "I am confident that we will do well in the [Ivy League] tournament."

Regardless of how the rest of the season unfolds, Harvard has reason to look forward to next year. With strong recruiting class and the return of star David Olson to full health, out for most of season with injury, the Crimson can only hope to get better. Harvard  3 MIT  1

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