CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Stevenson University men's volleyball team fell to No. 12 Vassar College in three and suffered a four-set setback at the hands of No. 15 Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a tri-match hosted by MIT on Saturday evening at Rockwell Cage.
Stevenson (12-7) fell in their opening match in straight sets by scores of 18-25, 11-25, and 23-25. Their second match of the day saw the hosts take the contest in four 22-25, 25-14, 28-26 and 25-23. The game between Vassar and MIT went the way of Vassar with results of 23-25, 25-23, 25-18, and 25-19.
The Mustangs were led in the first match by senior Alex Klunk who finished with six kills hitting .455 also adding a solo block and block assist. Freshman Logan Smiley chipped in fours kills and a dig. Junior Landon Shorts, sophomore Kyle Bosko, and freshman Garrett Weigel each added two kills. The setting tandem of junior Jared Chin and freshman Aleks Melbardis joined together to hand out 16 assists. Chin also added a team-high seven digs.
Twelfth-ranked Vassar (13-6) was paced by a game-high 15 kills, two solo blocks, and seven block assists from Matthew Knigge. George Diehl added nine kills and helped out on two blocks. Kevin Ros finished with six kills, nine digs, and four assisted blocks. Ryan Duchemin and Zechariah Lee each chipped in four kills, while Lee handed out 34 assists as well.
The opening set started off evenly as the two sides split the first six points and the match was level 3-3. Vassar went on a 4-1 run helped out by kills from Duchemin and Ros, while a Smiley kill was the only break in the Brewers momentum giving them a 7-4 lead. Four of the following six would go to Vassar as well with the only two Mustangs points coming off a pair of service errors one from Knigge and one by Ros making the score 11-6. Stevenson was able to cut the margin down to one at 14-13 using a 7-3 push of their own getting just one kill during the run from Klunk and one solo block from senior Andy Van Thuyne. The Mustangs were finally able to get back on level terms after an attack error by the Brewers Duchemin brought the score to 15-15. A kill from Ros sparked a 4-1 spurt for Vassar to go back up by three 19-16. A service error from Ben Brody cut the deficit back to two 19-17, but that was the closest Stevenson could get the rest of the set as the Brewers took six of the final seven points to take the frame 25-18.
Vassar opened the second with a bang grabbing an early 8-2 advantage getting kills from Jefferson Waters, Knigge (2), Lee (2), Duchemin, and Diehl. The Mustangs tried to get back into the set using three Brewers errors to cut the margin to 9-5. A kill from Klunk brought the score to 11-6, but that seemed to spark Vassar as they went on a 7-0 run to open up an 18-6 edge. A kill by Weigel made it 18-7, but the Brewers would not let Stevenson get the deficit under ten the rest of the way as a kill from Diehl capped off the second at 25-11.
The third set began with the teams sharing the first four points tying the score 2-2. Vassar snagged the next five with a pair of aces from Waters and a kill from Duchemin to open up a 7-2 lead. Kills by Weigel and Shorts helped the Mustangs bring the margin back to 10-6, but kills from Knigge, Diehl, and Lee quickly jumped the Brewers up by seven 13-6. Stevenson responded taking seven of the following ten trimming the deficit down to three at 16-13, during the push the Mustangs got kills from Melbardis, Smiley, and Bosko. A kill by Knigge and then a service error from Knigge kept the margin at three 17-14. After a kill from Klunk made the score 19-16. Stevenson went on a 6-3 run finished off by a block assist by Melbardis and Bosko which deadlocked the set 22-22. Kills from Knigge and Ros wrapped up a 3-1 push to take the set and the match 25-23.
The Mustangs as a team posted 17 kills hitting -.027, while No. 12 Vassar totaled 41 kills on a .333 attack percentage. Stevenson finished with two solo blocks and six block assists, while the Brewers also had two solo blocks but racked up 21 assisted blocks.
Match number two versus No. 14 MIT saw Stevenson (12-8) paced by a match-high 14 kills and a .250 hitting percentage from Gardner, in addition, he also added two blocks. Smiley posted 11 kills and match-high 15 digs. Shorts also picked up double-digit kills with ten and chipped in three aces. Reynolds contributed six kills and three blocks, while freshman Nate Reynolds and Klunk each totaled three kills and combined for five blocks.
MIT (13-3) got 13 kills apiece from Skyler Kaufman and Tavish Smith. Kaufman also added two solo blocks and two block assists. Nathan Wang finished with nine kills and eight digs. Andrew Hall and Andrew Callahan each posted six kills and combined for four solo blocks. Yize Dong finished with a match-high 37 assists, while Thomas Nelson had 11 digs.
The first set started out evenly as the score was tied twice within the first six points at 2-2 and 3-3. Four consecutive Stevenson errors handed the Engineers a 7-3 advantage. A kill from Reynolds and two MIT attack errors cut the score to one at 7-6. A 5-1 home team run with kills from Kaufman and Smith pushed the lead out to five 12-7. The Mustangs rallied with an 8-3 gallop with kills from Melbardis and Gardner (2), as well as an ace from Shorts leveled things up 15-15. Kills from Dong and Reynolds kept the score deadlocked at 17-17. Using kills by Gardner and Shorts Stevenson took their first lead of the match since it was 2-1 at 19-17. The Engineers rallied with four straight with a pair of kills from Kaufman to take a 21-19 edge. An assisted block between Melbardis and Reynolds sent the visitors on a 6-1 run getting kills from Shorts and an ace by Chin to take the set 25-22.
To begin the second frame the teams were embroiled in a tight contest with the score tied two times in the opening twelve points 3-3 and 6-6. A pair of service aces from Smith and a kill by Callahan gave the Engineers a 10-6 lead. Kills from Klunk and Shorts along with an ace from Shorts helped the Mustangs to take four of the next six to cut the deficit to 12-10. A kill by Smiley off a feed from Chin kept the margin at two 13-11, but that was as close as the away side would get in the set as the hosts wrapped things up on a 12-4 run to grab the second 25-14.
In the third, the Engineers got off to a fast start with a kill from Kaufman and a Hall ace gave them a 3-0 advantage. The Mustangs came storming back with four in a row aided by a block and a kill both from Gardner to jump in front 4-3. A kill by Kaufman and ace from Callahan edged the home side back ahead 6-4. Kills off the hands of Gardner, Smiley, and Reynolds knotted the score at 6-6, 7-7, and 8-8. The set of runs continued with MIT picking up the next four on a kill for Callahan and ace by Dong to take a 12-8 lead. Stevenson used kills from Gardner, Smiley, and Shorts to go on a 7-3 push and knot things back up at 15-15. The Engineers answered back by taking five of the following seven with kills by Kaufman and Smith sending them ahead by three 20-17. A kill coming off the arm of Shorts capped off a 4-1 guest rally to draw even 21-21. With the Mustangs looking at set point at 24-23 a kill from Wang made sure the period would go at least a few points longer. Stevenson had two more chances to wrap up the third as kills from Smiley and Shorts made it 25-24 and 26-25, however, each opportunity was met with a kill by Smith. A kill from Callahan and a bad set from Melbardis gave the frame to MIT 28-26.
The Mustangs got an ace from Chin and a kill by Gardner to grab an early 3-1 edge. With the score knotted at 3-3, the visiting side embarked on a 4-2 run getting kills by Gardner and Smiley (2) to edge in front 7-5. Three of the ensuing four went the way of the home side to draw even 8-8. The teams would trade points and tie four times over the next ten points at 9-9, 10-10, 12-12, and 13-13. Stevenson used kills by Bosko, Melbardis, and Shorts to grab a 17-13 lead. A 6-2 Engineers rally leveled things up 19-19. Both sides went back to exchanging scores with neither team able to take bigger than a two-point lead all the way out to 23-23. Unfortunately, for the Mustangs this highly competitive match would not reach a decisive fifth set as a kill from Smith and a block by Hall captured the game 25-23.
The Mustangs racked up 49 kills hitting .156, while No. 14 MIT picked up 48 with a .313 attack percentage. The service line was even between Stevenson and the Engineers with each side posting seven aces. The visitors held a 48-36 edge in digs, while the hosts had a slim assist advantage 45-44.
The Mustangs will return home on Friday, March 16, 2018, when they host a non-conference contest against Juniata College. First serve against the Eagles is set for 7pm.