After losing to the No. 1 ranked team in the country Springfield College 3-1 last Wednesday on Feb. 20, the men’s volleyball team bounced back this weekend with three 3-0 wins in the SUNY New Paltz Tri-Match.
The Hawks defeated Elmira College 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-16), Augustana College 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-16) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-11) to move to 12-4 on the year, and stay undefeated in the United Volleyball Conference (UVC) at 4-0. SUNY New Paltz will have one more game on the homestand against Baruch College Thursday before continuing UVC play March 6 on the road against The Sage Colleges.
“UVC games mean everything to us,” said Hawks third-year setter Matthew Grace. “Starting off 4-0 is a great start, but we have to keep that going and keep that train moving. We had a great opportunity to bounce back and play some good volleyball after the tough loss against Springfield on Wednesday.”
Trading blows early in the first set against Elmira on Saturday, a service error by the Soaring Eagles with New Paltz down 13-11 was enough for the Hawks offense to explode with six unanswered points putting the Hawks up 17-13. A kill by Elmira kept them behind 17-14 and broke up momentum, but New Paltz’s offense continued furiously with six more unanswered points to take full control at 23-14. A 5-2 run by the Soaring Eagles at the end was not enough, as the Hawks took the first 25-19.
With New Paltz falling behind early in the second set 5-2, a kill by fourth-year outside hitter Nick Smith gave the Hawks their first lead at 9-8. Attempting to pull away, New Paltz got a big run going when a kill by fourth-year outside hitter Bradley Schneider, two service aces by third-year outside hitter Aaron Carrk and a kill by third-year middle blocker Tevin Skeete pushed the Hawks ahead 19-13. Elmira tried to come back again with three unanswered points towards the end of the set but it proved not enough as New Paltz took the 2-0 match lead and 25-21 set victory.
Determined to finish the task at hand, the Hawks came out with an early lead and never looked back in the third set. With the Soaring Eagles still hanging around only down four at 20-16, a kill by third-year middle blocker Nick O’Malley produced five unanswered points for New Paltz to take the set 25-16, and the 3-0 sweep against Elmira.
Looking to continue their winning ways later in the day, the Hawks found themselves down 10-8 early in the first set against Augustana. Two kills by O’Malley woke New Paltz’s offense up, as the Hawks went on a 5-0 run to take the lead 13-10, and forced the Vikings to call a timeout. Augustana had no answer for New Paltz’s attack, as the Hawks continued to increase their lead to take the 25-17 first set victory and the 1-0 lead.
Going back-and-forth with the Vikings in the second, New Paltz found themselves down 17-14 late in the set. A kill by Skeete woke the Hawks up once again, going on a 7-1 run to take the lead back 21-18. With three unanswered points pushing New Paltz to match point at 24-20, a kill by O’Malley finally sealed the set for the Hawks 25-22, and put them in prime position up 2-0 in the match.
New Paltz came out hungry in the third set, establishing themselves with an early 7-2 lead. Consistently scoring to push their lead even farther, the Hawks gained their largest lead of the set at nine with a service ace by first-year outside hitter Brendan Spulnick to go up 22-13. New Paltz cruised to the finish, winning the set 25-16 and the match 3-0.
“Coming off the loss [against Springfield] we wanted to get back into a groove and into our system,” Carrk said. “I think we played some good ball this weekend, and we just have to keep practices and lifts at high intensity.”
The Hawks came out flat in the first set against MIT the following day on Sunday, falling early 6-2. A kill by Carrk at 7-4 brought New Paltz back in the game, sparking a 7-1 run to give the Hawks the lead up 10-8 and forced an Engineers timeout.
With MIT close behind down one at 15-14, another kill by Carrk produced four unanswered points for New Paltz, raising their lead to 19-14. Pushing towards set point, a kill by O’Malley sealed the set for the Hawks at 25-18, and gave New Paltz a 1-0 lead in the match.
Taking jabs at each other early in the second with four different lead changes, a kill by Schneider with the set tied at 10 sparked a 5-0 run for the Hawks, pushing New Paltz ahead, 15-10. It was the only boost they needed, as a 7-1 run at 16-12 put the Hawks up by double-digits at 23-13 with the set victory in sight. A 5-1 run by the Engineers at the end was not enough, as New Paltz went up 2-0 in the match with another 25-18 win.
The Hawks offense was firing on all cylinders early in the third set, taking command with a 10-2 lead. MIT had no answer, as a kill by Carrk pushed New Paltz’s lead up to 10 at 14-4, and a 5-1 run to put the Hawks up 22-8 gave them sole position of momentum in the match. New Paltz took the set 25-11, and the match 3-0.
“This weekend means a lot for where we stand in the UVC,” said Hawks head coach Radu Petrus. “There’s a better attitude and trust between teammates. We had great court discipline for the entire weekend, and there was overall a great team chemistry.”
New Paltz returns to action today against Baruch College at 7 p.m. in the Hawk Center.