It seems as though the SUNY New Paltz men’s volleyball team is getting back into their groove after a successful trip to Long Island last Saturday.
St. Joseph’s College-Long Island hosted the Long Island tri-match. At 11:30 a.m., the Hawks leaped into the leap year-day against North Central College. Second-year outside hitter Brendan Spulnick started the game on a high note getting the first point of the game with a kill. The Cardinals returned with a kill of their own, and at first the points went back and forth between the teams. The Hawks scored three points in a row, then the Cardinals two, and then the Hawks two again.
The rest of the first continued in this manner. New Paltz would go on a scoring streak, and North Central would follow. Although the Hawks always maintained a lead, the Cardinals were close behind.
The score tied at 23-23, raising the stakes of the first set. Thankfully, a kill from fourth-year middle blocker Nick O’Malley and a kill from fourth-year opposite hitter Aaron Carrk locked the Hawks in taking the set.
Although the Hawks could breathe a little easier, the game wasn’t over yet. The Cardinals continued with the same force that kept New Paltz at arm’s reach in the first set. The score tied at 1-1, 2-2, and 7-7. However, New Paltz broke the later tie and the set turned heavily in their favor after that. Fourth-year libero Robert Nolan and Carrk scored two points in a row from kills, and an attack error from the Cardinals gave New Paltz more leeway.
Two kills from O’Malley, an attack error from the Cardinals and a service ace from Spulnick brought the score to 17-12, Hawks. To end the set, Spulnick got two kills bringing the score to 25-18. The Hawks were up two going into set three.
New Paltz took the third set. Some highlights of the set were six kills from Carrk alone, and a kill from the only first-year on the team, middle blocker Pat Wing.
After taking the sweep against North Central, New Paltz didn’t have much recovery time as the next game started at 1 p.m. against St. Joseph’s. The Hawks kept their energy up, and even though this match was a bit tougher, they took the game 3-2.
This time, the Eagles took the first two sets, putting New Paltz into a bit of a panic mode going into the third set. The set remained close all throughout, even until the very end when the score tied at 23, 24, 25 and 26. An attack error from the Eagles and a kill from Spulnick kept the Hawks alive going into the fourth.
New Paltz had a much stronger fourth. O’Malley started it off with a kill, and an attack error from the Eagles gave the Hawks the early lead. On two separate occasions during the set, New Paltz had a scoring streak of four to separate them more and more from the Eagles. In typical fashion, Spulnick ended the set with a kill to give the Hawks a 25-19 win going into the final set.
Fourth-year setter Matthew Grace finished off for the Hawks. His serve led to an attack error from the Eagles and an ace to give New Paltz the final two points needed to sweep the tournament.
It certainly was a successful back to back game on Long Island for the Hawks. These types of events only happen every so often…or maybe every four years.
New Paltz will head to Cambridge, Massachusetts to face the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Friday, March 6 at 7 p.m.