The State University of New York at New Paltz men’s volleyball team swept the Juniata Invitational this past weekend, defeating the Juniata College Eagles, the Southern Virginia Knights and the Hiram College Terriers.
The Hawks started off their weekend against the Eagles. The first set was a consistent back and forth between both teams, as the final score landed at 25-22.
Second-year outside hitter Brendan Spulnick took flight for the Hawks, tallying a total of six kills in the first set, but putting up the first point on the board for New Paltz. Juniata player, fourth-year outside hitter Joe Fick, started it up for the Eagles. Throughout the set, there was never more than a five-point deficit between either team.
Fick tied up the score 5-5, but New Paltz had other ideas in mind. A service error from the Eagles, two kills from fourth-year opposite hitter Aaron Carrk and an attack error from the Eagles’ second-year outside hitter Robert Bowling, the Hawks were up 9-5. The set continued to follow suit.
In set two, the Eagles earned their first point off of a Carrk service error, but fourth-year middle blocker Nick O’Malley earned a kill for the Hawks to tie the score. After another Hawk error, O’Malley came in again with a kill, leaving the score 2-2. As in set one, set two followed a back and forth pattern of intensity from both sides of the net.
Tied at 22-22, the Eagles earn another point off of a Carrk service error. To correct his mistake, Carrk pushed forward with another kill, tying it 23-23. Sadly, the Eagles finished the set with two more kills from Fick and Bowling, giving them the 25-23 win.
The Hawks broke open their cage in the third set, starting off earning six consecutive points, other than one kill from Bowling within the streak. Although the Eagles came back to trail 7-5, a kill from fourth-year outside hitter Riley Dolan and Carrk, along with a bad set from fourth-year Eagles setter Michael Young, brought the team up to a five-point led, 10-5.
For the entirety of the third set, Hawks’ fourth-year setter Matthew Grace handed off every kill to his teammates.
“As a second year captain, I feel I impact the team by leading as much by example as I can,” Grace said. “This team is full of great guys so it is easy to lead them. Setting a winning and hard-working culture within our program has always been a priority for me.”
The Hawks took the third set, 25-20, setting the stage for the fourth and final set of the match.
All from Grace, O’Malley earned six kills, Spulnick earned five, Carrk earned four and Dolan earned three. Carrk assisted in not only kills, as after he tallied two blocks against the Eagles. Fick gave the Hawks two with attack errors, plus two Eagle service errors and a service ace off of third-year libero Daniel Voronov. The Hawks went on to win the set 27-25, earning the game win 3-1.
The No. 1 Hawks returned to Huntingdon, Pennsylvania on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. against the No. 11 Southern Virginia University Knights, defeating them 3-0 in three swift sets.
In the first set, the Knights handed 13 points to the Hawks, from five attack errors, two service aces, three service errors and three bad sets. Maximizing on their mistakes, the Hawks soared the ball over the net. Second-year middle blocker John Ronan tallied three kills, Spulnick tallied four, while Carrk and O’Malley had two. The Hawks were victorious in the first set, 25-12.
The Knights started off set two with four consecutive points, but the Hawks were quick to respond. While the Hawks did respond in spaced increments, the Knights continued to earn points and the Hawks were having a tough time catching up. While trailing five, the Hawks began to soar.
Ronan put up a kill, and the Knights gave a service ace, attack error and service error, so soon enough New Paltz was only behind 18-16. Carrk came back in with a kill, bringing the Hawks up 18-17. After an attack error from first-year Sam Candland, a bad set-up from fourth-year setter Kaipo Tagaloa and another kill from Carrk, the Hawks led 20-19. After the ball dropped to either set of the net, this head-to-head set was finally tied 22-22. The Hawks’ Spulnick put up a kill and a service ace from the Knights gave New Paltz the win, 25-23.
The Hawks took the same approach during the third set, winning 25-23. Although tying in kills for this set, the Knights had nine errors to the Hawks’ six, showing a deficit in their score.
Returning again to the Memorial Gymnasium in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, the Hawks swept the Hiram College Terriers in a seemingly easy 3-0 match win.
“While we dont have much of a freshman presence at the moment, a lot of the underclassmen had played awesome against Hiram College this past Saturday,” Grace said. “They swept them so it was really great to see the younger guys take care of business.”
The Hawks intensity over the Terriers was unmatched. In the first set, the Hawks tallied 15 kills while Hiram offered nine. In addition, the Terriers added eight errors to the Hawks’ three. The Hawks took the first and second sets 25-17. This continued for most of the match, with the Hawks defeating the Terriers in both the kill and error categories, other than the Hawks earning seven errors to the Terriers five during the third set. The final score of the third set was 25-19, thus the Terriers fell short to New Paltz’s dominance.
“I feel that the team played very well this weekend, we saw that we are capable of a lot of great things, but also learned about our flaws and what we need to work on to maintain the season that we are hoping to have,” Carrk said. “This team has excellent chemistry and they know how to win, how to perform at the right moments to assure our success.”
With five returning starters from last season’s National Championship team, the Hawks are back on Friday, Jan. 31 against Kean University at 7 p.m. in the Hawk Center in search of another win.