WESTON, Mass. - The Regis (Mass.) men's volleyball team opened their 2017 season with a heartbreaking five-set to the MIT Engineers on Tuesday night at Higgins Court. After defeating the Engineers in sets one and three, Regis squandered a 2-1 lead to suffer its first loss of the season.
With the win, the Engineers improve to 4-0, while the Pride drops to 0-1.
The Pride took the opening set on the evening by a score of 25-21, thanks in part to a hitting percentage of .400. The clinching point came on a bit of trickeration from Regis senior setter Joe Hanrahan (Coventry, R.I.). On what appeared to be a routine set at the net, Hanrahan slyly tapped the ball over the net and onto the floor to give the Pride the early lead.
MIT went nearly wire-to-wire in the second set to even the score. The Pride took the 1-0 lead in the set on one of a team-high 17 kills by senior Sean Bisnett (Oxnard, Calif.). After the kill, the Engineers jumped in front and led the rest of the way, eventually beating the Pride 25-22 in the set.
The Pride took set three by a narrow 25-23 margin to retake the one set lead, and its conclusion was very familiar. Up 24-23, Hanrahan dipped back into his bag of tricks for another set-clinching kill that looked just like the one in the first set. Just as they did in the opening set, the Pride had a hitting percentage of .400 in set three.
The fourth set was all Engineers from the start, as the visitors refused to go down quietly. With senior setter Suyash Fulay (Wexford, Pa.) at the service line, the Engineers won the first 12 points of the set, with seven of the points on Pride errors. The Pride attempted to battle back, but the damage was already done and MIT forced a fifth set 25-11.
The Engineers again got off to a quality start in set five to help secure the win. On five errors from the Pride, the visitors jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the fifth set that sucked all the energy out of the previously boisterous Higgins Court crowd. Down 8-2, the Pride rallied back to cut the deficit to 8-6 thanks to three consecutive MIT errors, but the Engineers pulled away to win 15-11 and stay perfect on the season.
MIT senior outside hitter Michael Kulinski (Aurora, Ill.) led both sides on the evening racking up 18 kills in his team's victory. His teammate, junior Tavish Smith (Laguna Beach, Calif.) finished with 13 kills.
For the Pride, Bisnett finished just one dig shy of a double-double in the season opener, tallying 17 kills and nine digs on the night. Regis juniors Marcos Aguirre (Norwalk, Calif.) and Wade Robidoux (Agawam, Mass.) also hit double figures in kills on the night, finishing with 11 and 10 kills, respectively.
The teams will meet again in Providence, R.I. on Friday as both teams play their first of four matches at the JWU Invitational. The rematch between the Pride and Engineers is slated to start at 6:00 p.m.