The SUNY New Paltz Men’s Volleyball team concluded their 2012 season with a loss in the UVC Tournament Quarterfinals. The No. 7 Hawks fell to No. 5 Stevens Institute of Technology on Saturday, April 14.
The Hawks grasped the No. 7 seed in the UVC Championship Tournament for the second consecutive year. The 3-1 loss to Stevens was the first defeat after a five-game winning streak.
Prior to the start of the tournament, the team lost one of their star players, fourth-year middle blocker and Captain Kevin Stross, to injury. Stross was one of the team’s leading players, Head Coach Radu Petrus said. With Stross’ presence on the court, the Hawks started their season 11-2 overall with a 5-1 UVC record.
Fourth-year opposite hitter and Captain Mike Van Tyne said losing Stross was detrimental to the team and affected their overall stats.
“We ended [this season] a little short,” he said.
Although the Hawks were weakened by the loss of Stross, their winning percentages from last year increased. The team went 19-11 overall with a .633 win percentage, doubling its 2011 UVC win total with six victories.
Petrus said it was hard for the team to rebuild after losing Stross, but they continued to play hard despite his absence.
“Everyone on the team did their best,” he said. “They really played their best.”
Van Tyne became the team’s offensive ace, ranking first in kills among the team and second overall in the UVC. Averaging 3.41 points per set and procuring a .267 hitting average, Van Tyne helped the Hawks obtain the No. 7 seed.
Along with leading the team in points scored, Van Tyne ranked second on the team in total blocks (12 solo, 67 assist). Van Tyne was selected to the 2012 All-UVC Second team because of his dominance on the court.
“It’s a great accomplishment, a really good personal achievement,” he said.
Despite ending the season sooner than expected, Van Tyne said he is proud of what the team was able to accomplish without Stross.
“We slowly bounced back and got in a little groove before the UVC tournament,” he said.
Now a graduating senior, Van Tyne said he feels accomplished with his career as a Hawk. He said Petrus was an “incredibly” influential mentor and helped him improve his game immensely.
“In my time here I’ve grown exponentially as a player,” he said.
After graduation, Van Tyne is teaching math at Darlington Middle School in South Carolina. He said he is already lined up to coach either volleyball or basketball.
As for next year, the team has high hopes. Petrus said the team’s recruits for next season are strong, talented players. Both coach and players agree they will be a force to be reckoned with in 2013.