Snapped Streak

Photo by Holly Lipka.

The Men’s volleyball team snapped their 17-match winning streak last weekend in a matchup with Div. III nationally-ranked No. 4 Springfield College.

The Hawks played three matches in two days at the Springfield Invitational.

On Friday, April 4, the Hawks defeated Southern Vermont College (25-23, 17-25, 25-21, 25-14).

Hawks first-year setter Mitchell Kennedy recorded a double-double with 11 kills and 16 assists while chipping in four digs and one block assist. He led the Hawks in the kills category. Third-year outside hitter Andy Fishman followed with nine kills, hitting .571 and contributing five digs. Hawks fourth-year setter and defensive specialist Misa Garo led the team with 21 assists.

The next day, host Springfield snapped the Hawks’ 17-match winning streak in five sets (25-21, 24-26, 23-25, 25-19, 10-15).

There were 34 tie scores and 12 lead changes throughout the match.

Third-year middle blocker Christopher Husmann led the Hawks with 13 kills and seven total blocks. Husmann is the leader in hitting percentage (.497) atop the United Volleyball Conference (UVC). Fishman, second-year middle blocker Steven Woessner and first-year outside hitter Anthony Bonilla all tallied 11 kills for the Hawks. Fourth-year setter John Lutjen and third-year co-Captain Christian Smith dished out 26 and 22 assists, respectively for the Hawks.

Later in the day, the Hawks took the final match of the Invitational against Ramapo College 3-2 (23-25, 23-25, 25-18, 25-20, 15-8).

Smith and Lutjen each finished with double-doubles. Smith tallied 17 kills and 17 assists and led the team with 18 points. Lutjen finished with 10 kills and 35 assists. Woessner (11) and Fishman (10) also reached double figures in kills, while Hawks third-year co-Captain Kevin Nardone recorded 13 digs.

Husmann was named the UVC Player of the Week on Monday, April 6.

The Hawks remain at No. 3 in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division III Men’s Coaches Top 15 Week #11 Poll, released on Tuesday, April 7.

The following day, the Hawks defeated The Sage Colleges 3-0 (25-12, 25-18, 25-21) in their final home matchup of the season at the Hawk Center.

Lutjen notched a double-double with a match-high 10 kills — hitting .643 — while delivering 18 assists. He also floored a match-best four service aces and chipped in three digs and three total blocks.

Head Coach Radu Petrus said one of the reasons for the team’s success this season has been their setters, who have the ability to not only set the ball, but to spike, block and play all-around.

The Hawks finished their regular season with a record of 25-4.

As a team, New Paltz closed out their regular season as UVC leaders in hitting percentage (.332), assists per set (12.42), kills per set (13.34) and opponent kills per set (8.70).

Petrus said team chemistry has developed because the program has grown up in the last few years.

“We have a few players who play at a high level during practices and matches,” Petrus said. “The newcomers try to follow the top players. We are in a good situation. We will be even more experienced next year. Some freshman can go up to help the team. It takes time to develop good chemistry. They know each other and we don’t have any issues.”

Entering the 2015 UVC Tournament as the No. 2 seed in the conference, the Hawks will have a first-round bye. They will next play in the semifinals against the winner of the Vassar College versus No. 6 Nazareth College quarterfinal game on Saturday, April 11 at 5 p.m. at a neutral site, Stevens Institute of Technology. If they advance, they will play in the finals the following day.

Last year, the Hawks advanced to the 2014 NCAA Div. III Tournament, only to be defeated by Juniata College in the semifinals.

Nardone said the team is preparing for the UVC Tournament the same way they have all year — with good practices, lifts and a tight mental focus on their upcoming opponents. The bye week gives the team more time to rest up and scout opponents, he said.

“It is a nice reward for our hard work and success in conference play this year,” Nardone said. “We want to win our conference championship, and ultimately win the national championship. Those have been our only goals all year.”

About Melissa Kramer 157 Articles
Melissa Kramer is a fourth-year journalism major who lives for sports and music.