The Men’s Volleyball team has been acing the competition lately.
Starting the season off with an 7-0 overall record and 3-0 United Volleyball Conference (UVC) record, the team suffered its first loss of the season in its home opener against No. 4 Springfield College on Feb. 6.
New Paltz out-hit Springfield, .257-.245, for the match, but the Hawks were beat off the serve. New Paltz committed 25 service errors to Springfield’s 20, while the Pride scored six service aces to the Hawks’ four. Blocking played a crucial role late, with Springfield holding the upper hand, 10.5-8.
The loss put things in perspective for Hawks Head Coach Radu Petrus.
“Springfield is not in our conference,” Petrus said. “They put themselves above our position. They are ahead of us in the standings because they beat us at home. We played that game at home under a little bit of pressure, since it was the first home game. I think it was a little too much pressure on the team. We can change that this weekend at the Springfield Invitational.”
The players said the loss was a tough one to swallow.
“It was a very tough loss,” second-year defensive specialist J.R. O’Hara said. “They played some pretty good volleyball, we also felt like we didn’t play our best volleyball at all. Our morale didn’t really change much though, since a loss was due to come after winning the first seven. I feel like we were able to put the game in the past and focused on the UVC tourney we had this weekend.”
The team swept the three-match UVC Crossover this weekend at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Hawks defeated D’Youville College 3-0 in a straight-set sweep. Third-year outside hitter Gus Gregory led a balanced Hawk attack with six kills, while third-year setter John Lutjen posted match-highs in assists (14) and aces (3).
In the second of three matches, the Hawks defeated No. 7 Elmira College 3-1. There were 32 tie scores and 13 lead changes throughout the match. Second-year middle blocker Christopher Husmann helped the Hawks’ attack with a match-high 16 kills and a .520 hitting percentage. Second-year setter Christian Smith tallied 26 assists throughout the match. Lutjen tallied 18 assists and nine digs during the match.
In the final match of the UVC tournament, the Hawks defeated No. 6 Nazareth College 3-1. With the sweep of the tournament and Wednesday’s sweep of Bard College, the Hawks now hold a 11-1 record overall, and an undefeated record of 5-0 in UVC play.
Both Petrus and players said the highlight of the weekend was defeating “Sweeping the UVC tournament this weekend was important, especially defeating teams from our division,” Petrus said. “I felt that we beat the top two teams in the west side of our division, Nazareth and Elmira. They were competitive matches. Now we are first in our conference, and hopefully we can go straight to win the conference.”
Husmann said sweeping the UVC Crossover was great for the team’s conference standings and overall confidence.
“Beating a top team [Nazareth] by more than 15 points is really reassuring especially after getting beaten by that team pretty handily,” Husmann said. “This also showed that we are no joke this year and we are here to win.”
Next on the Hawks’ agenda is winning in the four-match Springfield Invitational this weekend in Springfield, MA, which includes a rematch with Springfield College.
“We now have an understanding of Springfield’s tendancies, so we now know what to expect from them,” Husmann said. “We know how to defend it. We also missed way too many serves which is an easy fix, but they may not be our biggest competition this weekend.”
The ultimate goal of the team is to win a national championship, Husmann said.