After Five Straight 3-0 Wins, Men’s Volleyball Falters

Third-year middle blocker is currently first on the team in blocks with 34. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Swift)

Before losing to No. 1 Springfield College 3-1 (16-25, 25-23, 22-25, 23-25)Wednesday night, the men’s volleyball team had it’s five-game 3-0 winning streak come to an end when the Hawks lost to Elms College 1-3 (16-25, 19-25, 25-22, 16-25) Friday, March 8 on the road. 

The two back-to-back losses bring New Paltz to 14-6 on the year. The No. 7 in the nation Hawks will look to continue their undefeated streak at 5-0 in the United Volleyball Conference (UVC) this Friday night when New Paltz travels to New York University. 

“We’re just grinding for every single point, trying to make sure we’re blocking efficiently, and get an aggressive push over the net,” said Hawks first-year libero Bryan Kaplan. “After losing last time we’re hunting now.” 

New Paltz was complacent early in the first set against Elms, allowing the Blazers to jump out front with an 8-2 lead, forcing coach Petrus to call a timeout. The Hawks struggled to get back in the set, never mustering a rally to fall behind even further at 16-9, resulting in another stoppage of play. 

A kill by fourth-year outside hitter Bradley Schneider and an attack error gave New Paltz some hope down 16-11, but Elms College answered with six straight unanswered points, going up 22-11 and burying the Hawks. A 5-1 rally by New Paltz towards the end of the set was not enough, as the Blazers took a 1-0 advantage by winning the first 25-16.

The Hawks were not ready to go down 2-0, fighting back-and-forth early in the second set with Elms College. Down 7-6, two kills by fourth-year outside hitter Nick Smith and an attack error allowed New Paltz to grab the lead 9-7, and forced the Blazers to call a timeout of their own. 

With Elms College tying the Hawks four times afterwards but never grabbing the lead, New Paltz almost had the knockout punch after a kill by Schneider and two attack errors put them up 16-13. The Blazers, however, had different plans, coming back with a 4-1 run to grab the lead back at 18-17 and never looked back. A 7-1 run by Elms College tied at 18 sealed the set victory 25-19, and put the Blazers in prime position up 2-0.

Going back-and-forth with Elms College early again in the third set, the Hawks were able to establish themselves after a 5-1 run filled with kills by Smith, Schneider, third-year outside hitter Aaron Carrk and third-year middle blocker Nick O’Malley put New Paltz up 12-7. The Blazers tried to come back in the set with two unanswered points of their own, but two errors and a kill by Schneider pushed the Hawks further ahead up 15-9, forcing an Elms College timeout. 

New Paltz continued to move forward in the set, going up 21-15 to structure a third set victory. The Blazers came up with a 5-1 run to put pressure on the Hawks and come behind 22-20 but it was not enough. A kill by Schneider sealed the set 25-22, and kept New Paltz in the match down 2-1. 

The Hawks attempted to gain a large lead in the beginning of the fourth, going up 8-6 off kills by O’Malley and Schneider. Elms College answered with a 7-1 run, however, taking the lead back up 13-9. New Paltz tried to come back only down 16-12 in the middle of the set, but the Blazer’s offensive efforts were too much. A 6-1 run propelled Elms College up 22-13, forcing the Hawks to try and make one last final attempt. They could not, as the Blazers took the set win 25-16 and the match victory 3-1. 

“We made too many mental mistakes in the game [against Elms],” said New Paltz head coach Radu Petrus. “We didn’t approach the game seriously, and after that it was too late.”

The Hawks will continue their UVC schedule Friday night on the road at NYU at 6 p.m.

“Our strategy is to put it one and done. We don’t wanna play back and forth, just bump, set, spike and kill,” said second-year middle blocker Tevin Skeete. “After our loss to Elms, it was going to make it tougher if we didn’t get back up and go after Springfield. I know this team has the capacity and ability to dominate.”