The men’s volleyball team defeated SUNY Polytechnic Institute 3-0 (25-12, 25-16, 25-19) on Friday, Feb. 5 in the team’s home opener.
“It was big for us to win that game because it was our first time playing in front of our home crowd, so we wanted to showcase our talent that we have this year,” Hawks fourth-year co-captain Christian Smith said. “The energy in the gym was really good and we were able to get a lot of players in the match to get reps.”
The first match saw the teams trade points in the early going, but the Hawks rattled off five straight points thanks to four service aces by second-year outside hitter Anthony Bonilla to build a 12-5 lead. Shortly after that the Hawks saw their 15-7 lead jump to 24-7 thanks in part by kills from fourth-year outside hitter Andy Fishman, third-year middle blocker/opposite Jake Roessler and first-year outside hitter Eric Tuttle. The Wildcats would score five straight points after that, but the Hawks clinched the set thanks to a kill from third-year middle blocker Steven Woessner.
The second set proved to be close in the beginning as well, as the Hawks held a slim 12-11 lead before kills by Fishman, third-year opposite Joe Norman and third-year middle blocker C.J. Borfitz won the Hawks the set 25-16.
Again, the two teams traded leads early in the third set before a 12-3 run by New Paltz gave them a 16-8 advantage. Kills from Roessler, Borfitz, second-year middle blocker Nick Denoncourt and first-year setter and opposite Nick Smith sealed the victory for the Hawks.
Fishman led the team with six kills and hit .417 (6-1-12), while Norman and Roessler were right behind him with five and four kills, respectively. Bonilla dished out a career-high five aces and led the team with seven digs. Second-year setter Mitchell Kennedy led New Paltz with 13 assists and Smith was right behind him with 12 helpers while hitting .667 (2-0-3).
It was announced on Tuesday, Feb. 9 that the Hawks remain at No. 2 in the week three edition of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Div. III Men’s Coaches Poll.
On Wednesday, Feb. 10 the Hawks defeated Ramapo College 3-1 (25-19, 16-25, 25-16, 25-18). Their record now stands at 8-2.
Hawks Head Coach Radu Petrus said the match against Ramapo was a great test before their first United Volleyball Conference (UVC) matches this weekend.
“It will be a challenge for us to play head to head, we have physical ability and skilled players to play nearly five-hours of competitive volleyball in one day,” he said.
The team will travel to Rochester, New York for the first of three UVC Crossovers. The Hawks will face No. 6 seed Stevens Institute of Technology and host No. 4 Nazareth College.
Last season, New Paltz went 0-3 against Stevens Institute of Technology, including losses in the final round of the UVC Tournament and the semifinal round of the NCAA Div. III Tournament, which ended the Hawks’ season.
Despite the history with Stevens, Smith said the team is preparing for the match the same way they would prepare for any other match.
“We are preparing for Stevens the same way we prepare for every team,” Smith said. “We like to focus on us getting better and how we can make adjustments to give us an advantage. We have full confidence in ourselves as a team when we play our best.”