The New Paltz men’s volleyball team had won five of its last six games, taking a 21-5 record into this weekend’s United Volleyball Conference (UVC) Crossover at Stevens Institute of Technology, before a heartbreaking loss to Vassar College on Wednesday, March 29, Senior Night, in the Hawk Center.
After sweeping No. 15 Juniata College in three sets (25-23, 26-24, 25-17) on Friday, March 3 in the Hawk Center, New Paltz hosted a UVC crossover on Saturday, March 11 and registered 3-0 wins against Elmira College (25-10, 25-22, 25-16) and Bard College (25-11, 25-16, 25-22).
Against Elmira, fourth-year co-captain Jake Roessler led the way with nine kills and three blocks, while fourth-year co-captain Steve Woessner racked up eight kills of his own as well as six service aces and three blocks. Second-year setter and outside hitter Bradley Schneider also chipped in six kills, four digs two service aces and two blocks.
Later that afternoon against Bard, second-year setter and opposite Nick Smith paved the way to victory, recording eight kills, two service aces, one block and ten assists. Third-year outside hitter Yorman Escobar and third-year middle blocker Nick Denoncourt contributed nine kills cumulatively, while first-year setter Matthew Grace dished out 20 assists, nine digs and one service ace.
Woessner says that despite the loss to No. 1 Springfield on Wednesday, March 1, bouncing back was about the team sticking to its guns and doing what they have done for the other 20-plus wins the team has accrued.
“After a loss, instead of dwelling on what we could have done better, we like to analyze the game and use it to benefit how we practice and strategize for matches going forward,” Woessner said.
“We’re starting to play some of the best volleyball we’ve played all season and we’re going to keep getting better, but this final season has been one to remember already.”
The Hawks then went on to defeat No. 13 Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Saturday, March 18, 3-1 (25-22, 23-25, 25-18, 25-23) and No. 10 Hunter College at home on Saturday, March 25, 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-20).
Against MIT, Roessler had a career day as he registered 18 kills and three blocks, while Woessner recorded 11 kills, four service aces and three assists. Third-year outside hitter Anthony Bonilla also chipped in 13 kills, two service aces and nine digs.
The next weekend at home versus Hunter, fourth-year middle blocker C.J. Borfitz contributed 14 kills and three blocks, while Roessler logged nine kills and first-year middle blocker Nick O’Malley pulled down nine more.
Roessler said that the positivity on the court as well as the bench has helped the team tremendously during the recent wins.
“We just tried to stay really positive,” Roessler said. “We were down 23-20 in the last set versus MIT and came back to win. I think we have really locked into our strategy, bought into the system, realized what had to be done and enhanced our game.”
On Wednesday, March 29, the Hawks dropped a tough loss to No. 3 Vassar College. After being up 2-0, Vassar came back to take the next three sets and seal the win.
For the Hawks, Bonilla logged 16 kills, four digs and two blocks, while Roessler and Borfitz had 11 kills each. Grace also contributed 41 assists, four blocks and two service aces.
Despite the loss, Hawks head coach Radu Petrus says that the team has a lot of really talented players and they have seen success by finding the best players for each rotation on the court which they will look to translate through the end of the season.
“We always try to do our best,” Petrus said. “We try to build chemistry between the offense and the setter and practice the mentality to ‘feed the setter better,’ as well as to strengthen our defense with strong blocking.”
“After our loss to Springfield, we changed a little bit in practice and tweaked what didn’t work well,” Petrus added.
After the UVC crossover at Stevens on Saturday, April 1, the Hawks will look for some redemption against Springfield College in Massachusetts on Wednesday, April 5 to close out the regular season.