It was an unfortunate loss on Friday for the SUNY New Paltz men’s volleyball team and reigning Division III champs, falling at home to the Stevens Institute of Technology Ducks 3-1.
The Hawks were on a four game win streak heading into their Friday match, with a pair of 3-0 wins and another pair of 3-1 wins. The 12-2 Ducks were also on a four-game win streak of their own, including a defeat of the No. 2 Vassar Brewers. New Paltz played Stevens twice last season, losing 3-2 before winning the following game 3-1.
Both squads of birds appeared evenly matched right from the get-go, with the Hawks scoring a kill by second-year middle blocker John Ronan and earning another point off an attack error from Ducks’ fourth-year middle hitter Johnathan Frenzel. Stevens came right back with two points of their own, tying the match early and setting the tone that would carry through the rest of the sets. Both teams were at each other’s throats for the entire set, with neither team allowing a lead of more than a two point margin. Stevens narrowly pulled away with a 26-24 set victory.
The following set was a true nail-biter, and one of the longest sets of the season for the Hawks. The boys in blue and orange built up a 7-4 lead, with six of those initial points earned from kills.
For a majority of the second set, New Paltz was able to hold a steady three-point lead from Stevens. Yet, with a 23-20 Hawks lead, the Ducks scored four unanswered points and found their way to a 24-23 lead. With Stevens one point away from victory, New Paltz managed to stave off their opponents with a kill by fourth-year middle blocker Tevin Skeete and scoring another point from a Stevens attack error, giving them the 25-24 advantage. This call-and-answer play carried all the way until it was 29-29. The Ducks won the tense set 31-29 from a pair of New Paltz errors.
The Hawks found themselves with their backs against the wall for the match’s third set. Much like the game’s first set, it was another razor-sharp exchange of points from both sides of the net. Eventually, the predators from the 845 caught their prey with late kills by second-year outside hitter Brandon Spulnick and fourth-year opposite hitter Aaron Carrk to win the set 28-26.
Both teams flew into the fourth set, one team aiming to go home and the other to keep the fight brewing. Despite the Hawks garnering a 6-4 lead, they subsequently stumbled as the Ducks scored five consecutive points to put them up 9-6. As the Ducks began to pull further away, the Hawks fought all they could but unfortunately seceded the final set 25-20, losing the hard-fought match 3-1.
New Paltz will play the North Central College Cardinals on Saturday at noon and the St. Joseph’s College Long Island Golden Eagles at 2 p.m. later that day for the St. Joseph’s College Long Island Tri-Match in Patchogue.