Flying High

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Despite losing two of the team’s most recognizable names, the Hawks have been soaring.

The 2013 Men’s Volleyball team has started their season on a tear, defeating their first five opponents to start their spring season with a 6-0 record.

Head Coach Radu Petrus said the team’s losses of former starters Kevin Stross and Mike Van Tyne may have stripped the Hawks of college-level experience, but a crop of incoming first- year players and improved returning players have made an immediate impact on the program.

“It is always tough to replace senior players because they have so much experience and understanding of college game,” Petrus said. “However, we have such a great class of newcomers and returning players have been standing out as being a great example for these freshmen.”

Over the course of the team’s season so far, the Hawks have defeated No. 14 ranked Hunter College, No. 7 ranked Rivier College and No. 10 ranked Massachusetts Institute of Technology among other colleges, and have defeated five of their six opponents by a 3-0 match score.

Assistant Coach Tony Bonilla said the team is staying focused and taking each match one step at a time. Bonilla said he believes the team’s chemistry has also contributed to their early season success.

“These guys love to compete, but more importantly they like to be around each other,” Bonilla said. “They have a strong team bond. Coach Radu is also working diligently on their physical [game] to give them the upper hand in every match.”

Returning to this year’s squad are third-year setter Misa Garo, third-year middle blocker Dylan Rabidoux, third-year outside hitter Brian Smith and third-year middle blocker Brian O’Connor – all of whom started for the Hawks last season.

In addition, eight first-year recruits have been added to the roster, including two students who qualified for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Boys Volleyball Division I Championship last year.

Petrus said this year’s squad offers a mix of both experienced and promising young players and offers both himself and Bonilla the opportunity to have fluidity within the roster by allowing players to shift to different positions on the court.

“This year we have…a lot of competitive players for each position on the volleyball court,” Petrus said. “Last year we didn’t have this opportunity.”

Bonilla agreed and believes the team’s overall depth has contributed to the squad’s success in the infancy of their season.

The Hawks are looking to improve last season’s record of 19-11, and both Bonilla and Petrus believe the team can make it further into the playoffs this season.

In the first round of the 2012 UVC Championship Tournament last season, the Hawks lost to Stevens Institute of Technology by a score of 3-1.

“Personally, I feel this team can go all the way and finish as champions,” Bonilla said. “As for the biggest challenges, it would have to be staying focused and not be complacent.”