The Men’s Volleyball team ended their regular season United Volleyball Conference (UVC) play with a win against New York University (NYU) on March 13.
The 21-3 Hawks, who currently occupy the No. 3 ranking in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Poll, posted a .403 hitting percentage for the contest and floored a total of 11 service aces across the three sets. Second-year outside hitter Tim Ferriter led the attack with 10 kills and a .353 hitting percentage.
“Our last match against NYU was very important to our team mentally,” fourth-year middle blocker Dylan Rabidoux said. “A solid win like that gives us confidence heading into the UVC tournament and hopefully the NCAA tournament.”
The 3-0 (25-14, 25-14, 25-17) defeat of the Bobcats showed Head Coach Radu Petrus the team, who boasts a 8-2 UVC record on the season, had bounced back from their March 8 loss to Medaille College and gave the team what he anticipates to be a second seed going into the UVC Tournament.
The 3-2 (25-22, 22-25, 21-25, 25-19, 12-15) loss to Medaille was only the Hawks’ second loss within conference play and left the team with “disappointment and uncertainty about their power,” Petrus said.
“But after beating NYU we are more self-assured and back to play,” he said, adding the Hawks will likely be competing against Penn State – Behrend in the first round when they head to Rochester to play at No. 1 seed Nazareth College. With three teams holding a 7-3 record, Petrus is unable to speculate who the team may play post-second round prior to the chancellor of the conference’s decided seeding of these teams.
But Rabidoux said as a whole, the team, competing in the country’s strongest Div. III volleyball conference, does not hold concern for who they have to play, knowing they are competing against the toughest teams in the nation and looking to beat any one of the competitive teams they may have to face. Knowing they will likely take on either their first conference defeater of the season, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or the Mavericks of Medaille, only motivates them, he said.
Petrus said that the losses to these teams prior to the tournament will have a positive effect on the Hawks’ play, giving them drive and focus they did not assert the first time around.
“Once a team like that get their tricks out on the table, you can handle them a little better the second time you play them,” second-year setter and defensive specialist Kevin Nardone said. “A team isn’t going to beat you with their strength and skill, they’re going to beat you with their strategy and effort.”
The Hawks will compete in two weeks of non-conference matchups prior to the start of the UVC Tournament April 12. Petrus said as a coach he puts emphasis on the team playing the strongest non-UVC opponents before conference tournaments they can. The team will continue to focus on performing their signature high-level of serving within these non-conference games, Petrus said, to perfect what he said is “the key in men’s volleyball.”
“In our four remaining games we will be focusing on playing our style of volleyball because when we are at the top of our game, we believe we can beat anybody, and we’ve proved it this season time and time again,” Rabidoux said. “We will concentrate on keeping teams off-balance with tough serving and aggressive blocking.”
Of the three upcoming games, Petrus said Baruch College will provide the biggest competition for the team.
“Baruch is going to be a very good test for us,” Nardone said. “They’re a very team oriented squad, they play together very well and that’s something we can work on – gelling a little more. Hopefully we will mesh well when we play them and can handle them pretty easily.”
The Hawks took to the road to defeat Hunter College 3-0 March 26 and will return to New York City to face the Bearcats of Baruch April 1.