The No. 3 seed SUNY New Paltz men’s volleyball team won four of their last six matches, enduring a grueling schedule that included two pairs of back-to-back games.
The Hawks headed into their home match against the Vassar Brewers on Feb. 5 on a six-game win streak and no losses. Both teams were tightly matched, trading set wins. With the Brewers and Hawks tied at two set wins per side, a fifth sudden death set was needed to determine the victor. Crushingly, the Brewers put an end to the Hawks’ victory run, winning the fifth set 15-12 off of an advantageous set start and handing the Hawks their first loss of the season.
The Hawks set flight to Springfield, Mass. two days later for the International Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic, facing the number two seed Springfield College Pride. Despite narrowly losing the first set, the Hawks returned the favor, winning the second 27-25 and the third 25-19, putting them up 2-1 in the match. However, the Pride would not make it so easy for the Hawks and conceded the final two sets of the match, including winning the sudden death set 15-10.
Yet the very next day, New Paltz was back at it, facing the No. 6 seed Rivier University Raiders. The Hawks finally returned to their winning ways in the match, giving up the first set to the Raiders 25-20 but returning with a vengeance. The Hawks clawed into the Raiders with a 25-14 victory in the second set, following that up with closer 25-20 and 25-23 set victories, respectively, to put an end to their brief losing streak and winning 3-1.
The Hawks were fortunately not affected by the New Paltz water crisis from Feb. 11 to Feb. 14. Since the team was on the road, it did not affect their schedule or force games to be canceled or rescheduled.
On Feb. 13, the Hawks fought the Baruch College Bearcats in New York City. Though the sets were closely fought, with two of the sets being decided by a margin of just three points, New Paltz easily swept Baruch 3-0.
The previously stranded Hawks found their way back to their nest on Saturday following the Do Not Drink advisory being lifted for the Town of New Paltz the previous day. For their first tri-match of the season, they had a grueling two matches in four hours, facing the Nazareth College Golden Flyers at noon followed by the Arcadia University Knights at 4 p.m. The Hawks trounced the Golden Flyers in the first set with a 25-14 victory, but the Flyers pulled within two points of victory in the following two sets. Despite the fight, the Hawks clung on for 26-24 and 25-23 set victories, respectively.
Merely hours later, the dominant Hawks continued their victory prowl against the Knights. The match started with both teams trading 25-23 set wins before New Paltz put the nails, in the forms of 25-22 and 25-16 set wins, in the coffin to seal the victory for the boys in blue and orange.
The reigning Division III champions return to action at home on Friday at 7 p.m. to play the Stevens Institute of Technology Ducks to round out their tri-match. A trip to Annandale-On-Hudson on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. to face the Bard College Raptors will see the Hawks attempt to continue their 18-game undefeated streak against the team.