The men’s volleyball team extended their win streak to 19 after winning four matches over the weekend and one this week.
The Hawks have not lost a match since Saturday, Jan. 16 when they were down on their Puerto Rico trip.
First, the team swept No. 15 Juniata College on Saturday, March 5, 3-0 (25-18, 25-12, 25-17). New Paltz swept Juniata earlier this season on the road back on Saturday, Feb. 20, 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-11).
New Paltz hit .392 (29-9-51) compared to Juniata’s hitting-percentage of .167 (19-12-42). The Eagles did have the advantage defensively, posting five blocks to the Hawks’ four and 12 digs to New Paltz’s 11.
Hawks third-year middle blocker Steven Woessner tallied a team-high seven kills and hit .750 (7-1-8). Fourth-year outside hitter Andy Fishman and fourth-year middle blocker Christopher Husmann were second on the team with six kills, with Husmann posting a game-high .857 (6-0-7) hitting-percentage. Hawks fourth-year co-captain Christian Smith notched a game-high 21 assists, and held down the defense with second-year outside hitter Anthony Bonilla as both tallied four digs.
Later that day, the Hawks swept No. 7 Dominican University 3-0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-21). New Paltz posted a .500 (48-10-76) hitting-percentage, the first time this season the Hawks have posted a .500 or higher hitting-percentage against a nationally-ranked team.
Third-year opposite Joe Norman led the Hawks with 16 kills and hit .667 (16-2-21) with five digs and three service aces. Woessner was second on the team with 10 kills and hit .500 (10-2-16). Smith posted a game-high 42 assists, and Bonilla held down the defense with a game-high 10 digs.
The following day, New Paltz defeated two United Volleyball Conference (UVC) opponents, as they started the afternoon with another sweep when they defeated Penn State Behrend 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-19). New Paltz hit .446 (49-12-83) in the match.
Third-year middle blocker and opposite Jake Roessler led the Hawk attack with 16 kills and hit .625 (16-1-24). Second-year middle blocker and outside hitter Ryan Cole was second on the team with nine kills and posted a career-high 11 digs. Second-year setter Mitchell Kennedy dished out a career-high 39 assists and hit .714 (5-0-7).
“I loved seeing the guys that don’t always start getting a chance to play and really excelling,” Hawks fourth-year co-captain Kevin Nardone said. “They did a tremendous job of controlling the match and playing New Paltz volleyball’s type of volleyball. This can be very challenging for people who are not always used to having game time reps.”
After that the Hawks concluded their weekend with a 3-1 (25-20, 21-25, 25-15, 25-22) victory over No. 13 New York University (NYU). The win bumped New Paltz’s record up to 19-2 and an undefeated 5-0 in conference play. The Hawks have yet to lose to a Div. III school this season.
The first set saw NYU take the early lead and gain a 16-8 advantage, but an 8-2 run by New Paltz brought the score to 18-16. Husmann followed with two consecutive kills to even the game at 18-18. Two straight attack errors by Violets third-year outside hitter Chase Klein and a service ace by Norman gave the Hawks a 21-18 advantage and they would go on to win the set.
The second set was close as well, as the two teams were locked in a 17-17 tie. A 6-2 run by NYU propelled them to victory in the set and tied the match at 1-1, but New Paltz did not have much trouble in the third set, as they were victorious by a score of 25-15.
The Hawks looked poised to win the match in four, as they held a 17-12 advantage in the fourth set. But a 8-3 run by the Violets cut the deficit to 20-19. After that, two NYU errors and kills by Woessner, Norman and Husmann clinched the set and the match for the Hawks.
“I really liked how we responded when we dropped a set to NYU,” Smith said. “I thought the team did a great job of regrouping and responding in that third set because we had not lost a set in quite some time. I thought we did a great job of coming out firing on all cylinders and really feeding off of the crowd. There was great energy in the gym throughout the games this weekend.”
New Paltz hit .304 (48-17-102) in the match. Fishman and Norman were tied for first on the team with 12 kills each. Husmann also contributed with nine kills and a .571 hitting-percentage (9-1-14), and Bonilla also hit for a .571 (5-1-7) clip. Nardone held down the defense with 10 digs. Smith posted a game-high 43 assists.
“With these two victories, we are at the top of our conference and our chance to host the UVC Tournament increased considerably,” Hawks Head Coach Radu Petrus said.
On Monday, March 7, Husmann was named UVC Player of the week for the period ending March 3. He hit .714 (21-1-28) and notched 2.10 kills per set on the week.
On Tuesday, March 8, it was announced that New Paltz remained ranked No. 2 in the latest AVCA poll.
On Wednesday, March 9 the Hawks swept No. 1 Springfield College 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-17).
With a record of 20-2, the Hawks will next host Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in a UVC matchup on Saturday, March 12 at 1 p.m. in the Hawk Center.