Mustangs Drop Pair Against Top-15 Teams

Mustangs Drop Pair Against Top-15 Teams

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Stevenson University men's volleyball team dropped two games on Friday afternoon against 14th-ranked Marymount University and third-ranked SUNY New Paltz at the Verizon Sports Arena on the campus of Marymount University.

Marymount (4-2) took the opening match in straight sets by scores of 25-20, 25-23, 25-17.  The second match of the day saw New Paltz (2-1) take the match in coming from behind fashion by set finals of 19-25, 28-30, 25-23, 26-24, and 15-6.  Stevenson (2-4) has now lost four straight and three in a row to nationally ranked teams.

The Mustangs were led in the first match by junior Landon Shorts with seven kills and ten digs hitting .143.  Senior Alex Klunk hit .333 and posted four kills with three blocks.  Junior Jared Chin handed out 19 assists and dug eight balls hitting .333 as well.  The duo of junior Jason Gardner and freshman Nate Reynolds combined for seven kills and eight blocks.

For the Saints, Eric Wiles and Sam Safley led the way with Wiles hitting .292 and totaling a game-high 11 kills.  Safley also was in double-digits in kills with ten and three blocks.  Ben Steranka had a game-high seven blocks.  Erich Bratke posted a double-double with 32 assists and 11 digs.

The opening set went back and forth in the early going as an attack error from Safley tied things up at 8-8.  After a Marymount service error and an ace from Shorts Stevenson held an 11-9 edge.  That little jump by the visitors seemed to spark the hosts as they ripped off eight straight to go in front 17-11.  The Mustangs did not go away though as they fought back to get within two at 22-20.  Marymount dug in and went on a 3-1 stretch to close out set one.

Set number two started off slow for the guests as they fell behind 4-1 early.  Stevenson crept back into the match and eventually pulled it back to one at 8-7.  For the middle part of the frame, it was nip and tuck with the road team never able to quite get back on level terms, as a pair of kills from Shorts brought the score to 16-15.  A 3-1 spurt by the Saints ran the lead out to 19-16 with the Mustangs lone point during that run come from a service error.  Kills by Shorts and freshman Logan Smiley capped off three straight for the road side and finally erased the deficit to level things at 19-19.   The next three points were taken by the hosts to regain the advantage 22-19.  An error from the service line by Steranka put Stevenson down one 24-23, but unfortunately, the set came to a close on the next point after an error on the serve from Smiley.

The third set once again started even when a kill from Shorts tied it up at 5-5.  Marymount gained a four edge 11-7 capping off the 6-2 push on an error from Gardner.  Coming out a Mustangs timeout the two sides spilt the next six points with a kill from Gardner kept the deficit at four 14-10.  The lead continued to hang at four as a kill from Smiley brought the score to 21-17.  From there the match would end as the Saints took the next four to close the deal.

Match number versus third-ranked SUNY New Paltz saw Stevenson paced by Shorts, Smiley and Gardner who all posted double-digit kills.  Smiley led the way with 13, with Shorts and Gardner totaling 12 and 10 respectively.  Chin continued his strong day racking up 36 assists and two blocks.  Klunk had a team-high five blocks to go along with five kills.  Sophomore Derek Tangorra had a team-high 11 digs.

New Paltz also saw three players hit double-digit kills.  Nick Smith picked up a double-double with 15 kills and 10 digs.  Aaron Carrk added 14 kills, while Ryan Cole chipped in 12.  Matthew Grace and Mitchell Kennedy combined to dish out 60 assists. 

The Mustangs started the contest out strong when a block from Smiley gave Stevenson a 5-1 lead.  Set number one saw the Mustangs hold a seven-point edge on three separate occasions at 11-4, 18-11, and 20-13.  A kill from Ben Cohen cut the margin down to 22-18 and caused a Stevenson timeout.  Consecutive Hawks attack errors and a Smiley kill ended the set. 

Set number two started well for New Paltz as a kill by Ryan Cole made the score 7-5 to the Hawks early on.  A kill from Chin would level things at 20-20, which resulted in the ninth tie of the set.  The first chance to close out the frame came to New Paltz, but a kill from Klunk ended the threat for the moment.  Stevenson had their shot with the score at 26-25, however, Carrk picked up a kill to knot things up again.  Each team would get another crack to end things, with neither side able to do so.  With the Mustangs up 29-28 after a kill from Smiley, the set came to an end on the next point off an attack error from Carrk. 

The third set went back and forth with the teams trading points and eventually, the score was 10-10.  Reynolds took a feed from Chin to pick up another kill giving the Mustangs a slim 15-14 edge.  Smith scored a kill to put the Hawks back up 21-20, but that lead did not stand for long as one the very next point Smiley stuck a kill of his own to level the score.  With New Paltz holding a one-point advantage 24-23 a kill from Tevin Skeete brought the frame to a close. 

After a brief break set number four saw the two sides trading the first 14 points which resulted in a 7-7 score.  Stevenson used a 4-1 push to take a 12-8 advantage.  A kill from Smiley gave the Mustangs their largest lead of the set 18-14.  New Paltz stormed back by taking the next four points ending on a Cole kill tying the score 18-18.  A service error from Reynolds gave the Hawks the opportunity to draw even in the total score, but Shorts ending the threat with a kill making it 24-24.  However, New Paltz took the following two points on a pair of kills from Smith to capture the set and even the score at two sets apiece.

The final period started even again as the scoreboard read 3-3.  New Paltz then used an 8-1 run to go in front 11-4.  Stevenson unfortunately never could find a way to get back into the set as they only picked up two more points the rest of the way on a Smith service error and a block by Klunk.  A kill from Skeete would wrap up the come from behind victory for the Hawks.

The Mustangs will return to action on Saturday, February, 3 for the home opener when they host a MAC conference match against Wilkes University.  First, serve against the Colonels is set for 2 pm.