DALLAS, Pa.. – Junior Landon Shorts recorded a career-high 12 service aces and ten kills hitting .364 as the Stevenson University men's volleyball team continued a strong start to conference play defeating Misericordia University by a final of 3-1 on Thursday night at the Anderson Center.
Stevenson (4-4, 2-0 MAC), has now won two in a row winning tonight by set scores of 25-12, 25-11, 23-25 and 25-10. It is the first time since the opening week of the season that the Mustangs have posted consecutive victories when they beat Menlo and Illinois Tech in California.
In addition to Shorts, the Mustangs were led by freshman Logan Smiley who added ten kills, four blocks and three aces on a .389 hitting percentage. Freshman Aleks Melbardis contributed a game-high 33 assists and six blocks. Senior Alex Klunk had a game-high seven blocks and five kills on eight attack opportunities.
Misericordia (4-5, 0-2 MAC), was paced by Ryan Miller who had a game-high 14 kills, four digs, and a block. Bailey Brugler chipped in with 24 assists, six digs, and a team-high three aces. Caleb Bauder was second on the team in kills with five.
The match started out real tight as Stevenson took a 2-0 lead right out of the gate, but Misericordia responded with two quick points to level things up at 2-2. Both sides would trade scores over the next six points which kept the score even 5-5. Then with Smiley on the service line, the Mustangs got on a run of their own to go ahead 9-5 off of two serve aces and a pair of Cougars attack errors. The home side pulled things back to within two 11-9 off a kill from Miller. That was the closest that Misericordia could get the rest of the set as with Shorts serving the visitors ripped off ten straight to grow the lead out to 21-9. During that streak, Shorts picked up four aces and three different players scored a kill. The Mustangs run finally came to a halt when Shorts committed a service error. However, the Cougars could not gain any momentum the remainder of the frame as Stevenson closed out set one on a 4-2 push, to take it 25-12.
Set number two opened up with the teams sharing the first eight points, as a Smiley kill knotted things up at 4-4. Weigel then took the serve line for the away side and helped the team to four consecutive points aided by a kill from Melbardis and three home team attack errors. With the score 8-5 Stevenson, a kill from Shorts and an ace, as well as a kill from Smiley, capped a 3-0 push making it 11-5. A ball-handling error from Smiley stopped the pressure for a brief second but sparked the Mustangs on a 5-0 run to take a 16-6 edge leading to a Misericordia timeout. The teams exchanged the next four points allowing the guests to maintain the ten-point advantage at 18-8. Shorts than added three aces and got a kill from teammate sophomore Nathan Bosse to open up a 23-8 lead. The Cougars would outscore the Mustangs three to two down the stretch, but it was not enough as the away side took the set 25-11.
The third set saw Stevenson jump out to an early 3-0 lead. The hosts then got on their best streak of the match up to that point as a kill from Bauder and three straight aces from Brugler gave them a slim 4-3 edge. Misericordia kept hold of the lead until an attack error with senior Andy Van Thuyne leveled things at 6-6. The Cougars regained control scoring three of the next four going ahead 9-7 before a kill from junior Avery Engel as well as a block and ace from Klunk tied the score at 10-10. The two sides shared the following six points and remained deadlocked at 13-13. Shorts attempted spark Stevenson with two more aces, but Misericordia just would not go away clawing their way back down just 18-17. Another kill from shorts and a home attack error sent the Mustangs in front 20-17 prompting a home timeout. Coming out of the break the Cougars seemed revitalized as they took the next three squaring the match back up at 20-20. Neither side could break free to close out the set as it continued to be nip and tuck as the score got to 23-23. The frame was just not meant to be for Stevenson when errors from Smiley and Shorts, unfortunately, gave Misericordia life in the contest as they took the set 25-23.
Stevenson used two Cougar errors and a Shorts ace to open up a 3-0 lead. The Mustangs kept the heat on with kills from junior Jason Gardner, Klunk and Shorts made it 6-1 which caused the hosts to take a timeout. Unlike the third set, however, the break did not give Misericordia momentum as Stevenson went on a 7-1 run to go ahead 13-2. A kill from Miller got the margin under ten at 15-6. That was the closest they were able to get the rest of the way as the Mustangs outscored the home side 10-4 down the stretch to take the set and the match 25-10.
The Mustangs as a team hit .341 on 43 kills, while Misericordia hit .011 and totaled 27 kills. Stevenson continued to be strong in the service game picking up 18 aces to the Cougars four. The away side also picked up 12.5 blocks to the hosts two.
The Mustangs have a short recovery time as they are back in action tomorrow night Friday, February, 9 when they travel to Springfield, Mass. for a matchup with top-ranked Springfield College in the International Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic. First serve against the Pride is set for 6pm.