Mustangs Sweep Tri-Match Against Widener And Hunter

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – The Stevenson University men's volleyball team extended their winning streak to four as they defeated conference foe Widener University and non-conference Hunter College both in straight sets in tri-match hosted by Stevenson University on Saturday afternoon at Owings Mills Gymnasium. 

Stevenson (8-5, 4-0 MAC) took the opening match in straight sets by scores of 25-13, 25-11, and 25-14.  Their match of the day saw the hosts take the contest in three 25-20, 25-17, and 25-20.  The game between Widener and Hunter went the way of Hunter with results of 25-21, 25-18, and 25-17. 

The Mustangs were led in the first match by freshman Garrett Weigel who totaled eight kills hitting .500, two digs, and a service ace.  Junior Landon Shorts also finished with eight kills posting a .438 attack percentage.  Freshman Logan Smiley added seven kills, three blocks, and an ace.  Sophomore Nathan Bosse, juniors Jason Gardner, and Billy Russo each picked up three kills.  The setting combination of junior Jared Chin and freshman Aleks Melbardis racked up 37 assists, with Chin handing out a game-high 25. 

Widener (0-5, 0-3 MAC) was paced by seven kills and a .214 attack percentage from Matt Blaum.  Will Cicciatore chipped in five kills and an ace.  While A.J. Sungenis had three kills, a block, and an ace.  Billy Barclay added a kill and a team-high 12 assists.   

The opening set started off evenly as the two sides spilt the first eight points and the match was level 4-4.  A pair of kills by Blaum handed the Pride a 7-5 advantage, but the Mustangs responded with four straight with the aid of a Shorts kill and Melbardis ace to regain the lead 9-7.  Widener picked up three of the next four to tie things up again at 10-10.  After a kill from Gardener put Stevenson back in front by one, Klunk took to the service line and helped the home side to grab the following eight points with a pair of kills from Smiley and a solo from Gardner opening up a 19-10 edge.  Sungenis off a feed from Barclay slowed the momentum for a brief second, however, it would not be enough as the Mustangs went on a 6-2 push ending on a Shorts kill to take the set 25-13. 

Set two kicked off the same as the prior with the teams sharing the points in the early going as they were deadlocked at 4-4.  Kills from Smiley, Weigel, Reynolds, and Shorts assisted on a 9-2 run by Stevenson to snag a 13-6 lead.  The Pride responded with kills from Cicciatore and Sungenis to cut the deficit to five 13-8.  Again though it would be the Mustangs who grabbed a stranglehold on the frame galloping to an 11-2 streak to take a commanding 24-10 advantage.  During that run, three different players for Stevenson recorded kills Shorts (2), Bosse (2), and Weigel (3).  Cicciatore added one more kill to his total before junior Avery Engel ended things at 25-11. 

Stevenson got off to a faster start in the third when a service from Weigel made the score 8-3.  The teams exchanged the next six points to keep the margin right where it was at five 11-6.  A service error from Blaum put Chin on the service line and with help Russo and Weigel kills the Mustangs scored six in a row to go in front 17-6.  Widener cut the lead down to nine at 19-10 after a home attack error.  Stevenson outscored the Pride six to four down the stretch to take the set and the match 25-14. 

The Mustangs as a team posted 40 kills hitting .456, while Widener totaled 16 kills on a -.041 attack percentage.  Stevenson continues to be strong at the service line picking up six aces to the Pride two. 

Match number two versus Hunter saw Stevenson paced by Shorts and Gardner who each posted double-digit kills.  Shorts led the way with 15, with Gardner adding 13.  Melbardis continued his strong day racking up 36 assists, two digs, and two blocks.  Freshman Nate Reynolds had a team-high four blocks to go along with five kills.  Sophomore Derek Tangorra had a team-high 12 digs, while Shorts chipped in 11.

Hunter got a team-high ten kills from Blake Hogan who also added four digs.  Michael Jazgarski finished with eight kills and two blocks.  Benjamin Cassidy had a nice match posting five kills, five blocks, and four digs.  Alec Helford dished out a team-best 26 helpers.    

The match was tightly contested in the opening as the first set was tied up five different times within the first 22 points with scores of 4-4, 8-8, 9-9, 10-10, and 11-11.  Stevenson found some rhythm finally and was able to jump in front 14-11 after kills from Gardner and Melbardis.  The two sides shared the next four points and the Mustangs maintained the three-point edge 16-13.  A kill by Shorts pushed the home side up 17-13.  The Hawks would not go down without a fight however as a 3-1 run ending on a Cassidy kill to trim the gap to 18-16.  Stevenson came back with kills from Shorts and Smiley to extend the margin out to four 20-16.  After a finish from Hogan made the score 21-18, a pair of Hunter attack errors and a Gardner kill brought the advantage to 24-18.  Reynolds posted a kill to end the first 25-20.

Hunter came out strong to start the second as an attack error from Klunk gave the guests a 4-1 lead.  After three consecutive miscues from the Hawks tied things up at 4-4 the teams shared the next six points and the score remained level 7-7.  The Mustangs then embarked on a 7-2 spurt ending on a Shorts ace to nab a 14-9 advantage.  A kill from Jazgarski brought the margin down to 16-12 but was quickly answered by a 5-0 home push aided by kills from Shorts, Gardner, and Reynolds to take a nine-point edge 21-12.  A combination block from Helford and Cassidy made the score 24-17, but a service error from Hogan on the ensuing point gave the Mustangs the set 25-17. 

In the third things opened up tight as a kill by Shorts knotted the score at 5-5.  A service ace from Reynolds and a pair of Shorts kills put the Mustangs ahead 9-5.  The Hawks were able to cut the deficit by one after a kill from Matthew Zukowski made it 14-11.  Stevenson picked up the next four points with two kills from Reynolds and a pair of Hunter errors pushing the lead out to 19-11.  Three of the following four went the way of the Hawks and soon the score was 20-14.  Hunter kept up the pressure bringing the margin down to four with a 6-3 run at 24-20.  The set and the match would come to a conclusion on the ensuing point when Hogan committed an error ending the proceedings 25-20. 

The Mustangs racked up 47 kills hitting .357, while Hunter picked up 32 with a .189 attack percentage.  Stevenson held the edge at the service line yet again with five aces to the Hawks one.  Both sides totaled 35 digs, with the hosts holding a 41-30 advantage in assists. 

The Mustangs will return to action on Thursday, February, 22 when they travel to Grantham, Pa. for a MAC conference match against Messiah College.  First serve against the Falcons is set for 7pm.