Over the summer, third-year middle blocker Kevin Stross of the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz’s Men’s Volleyball team was announced the NCAA Division III statistical champion in hitting percentage.
“It feels great to have finished with the best hitting percentage in Division III Volleyball,” Stross said. “I’m proud that my hard work paid off.”
Over the course of last season, Stross played constantly while focusing on staying healthy and performing to his potential. This attitude helped him consistently place in the top 10 for hitting percentage in Division III, but as the season came to a close, Stross realized that he may have had a shot at being ranked No 1.
“I looked on the list and I came to the conclusion that if I wanted a shot at being number one, I had to minimize my hitting mistakes,” Stross said.
Stross decided to personally change the style of play he had in his first year to a more “controlled” technique this year. This new controlled approach took less power from his spikes, but allowed Stross to place the ball strategically across the court, which he said was a large part of his success.
In the end, Stross’ work paid off, and he finished the season with a .467 hitting percentage and tallied 429 kills, which ranked him fourth all-time in kills at SUNY New Paltz dating back to 1995. His performance also garnered him North East Collegiate Volleyball Association (NECVA) First-Team All-Metro Division honors.
According to head coach Radu Petrus, Stross was “key” to the success of the team’s offensive attack. Petrus also commended Stross on his ability to work well with his teammates – something Stross credits to his success last year.
“To tell you the truth, I owe almost all the credit to my setter, Andrew Cassius,” Stross said.
“Him and I have found a connection on the court that can’t be taught. We trust each other and he knows where I am and where to put the ball, and I know where he is going to put the ball.”
Cassius ranked third in the nation with 1,406 assists, and currently ranks first under the all-time single season assist record.
“He did a spectacular job…last year and I owe my hitting percentage success to my setter and close friend,” Stross said.
As for the future, Stross and Petrus hope to improve upon his already potent attack.
“Kevin plays a very important role in our Volleyball Team,” Petrus said, “[he] did a great job in the past and I see him growing every year, he still has… potential to be a better volleyball player in the future.”