OWINGS MILLS, Md.. – The Stevenson men's volleyball team squared off against Middle Atlantic Conference opponent Messiah College for the top spot in the conference standings. The Mustangs used a balanced attack to blank the Falcons by a final of 3-0 on Thursday night at Owings Mills Gymnasium.
Stevenson (15-8, 8-0 MAC), stayed unbeaten in the MAC taking the contest by set scores of 25-19, 25-21, and 25-21.
Junior Jason Gardner and freshman Logan Smiley led the way with eight kills apiece. Gardner hit .250 adding six digs, three solo blocks, and three block assists. Smiley contributed with a .217 attack percentage chipping in seven digs and two assisted blocks. Senior Alek Klunk and junior Landon Shorts both finished at six kills. Junior Jared Chin and freshman Aleks Melbardis combined for 28 assists with Chin handing out 20.
Messiah (11-7, 6-2 MAC), was paced by Logan Hunsberger who posted a game-high 12 kills and three digs. Travis Hoover totaled seven kills and two service aces. Noah Shreiner recorded six kills. Brendan Warren and Jarred Sands had a nice night combining for seven kills and nine digs. Brad Nase dished out a game-high 29 assists.
The Falcons got out to an early 3-0 lead off of a kill from Shreiner and an ace by Warren. Stevenson bounced back using a Smiley kill and two Messiah errors to draw even 3-3. After a kill from Warren, the home side used a pair of visitor miscues to snag a 6-4 edge. The set would square at 6-6 after a Hunsberger kill and attack error by Gardner. Both sides shared the following eight points to keep it tied 10-10. With the score 12-12, the Mustangs used kills by Klunk, Smiley, and freshman Nate Reynolds to go on a 6-1 run to take an 18-13 advantage. Kills from Hunsberger and Hoover trimmed the margin to three at 19-16. That was the closest Messiah could get the rest of the first as kills from three different Mustangs finished off a 6-3 push to grab the set 25-19.
Set number two started strong for the home team with kills from Klunk and Smiley steaking them to a 4-0 lead. A service error by Shorts and Hunsberger kill stemmed the momentum for a moment but kills from Klunk, Reynolds and a combined block by Smiley and Reynolds extended the advantage to 8-2. The Mustangs stretched the margin out to seven at 13-6 prompting a Messiah timeout. Out of the break, the Falcons responded with two aces from Hoover cutting it to 13-9 but kills by Gardner and Smiley sent the hosts back out by seven at 16-9. Five of the next eight went to the away side knocking deficit down to 19-14. Messiah kept the pressure on embarking on a 6-3 run getting kills by Hunsberger, Hoover and an ace from Ian Parzyzsek bringing the margin to 23-20. Gardner in combination with Klunk added the final two kills of the second at 25-21.
The third opened evenly as draws at 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, and 6-6 gave neither side momentum. A kill by Shorts started a 4-1 Mustangs gallop to nab a 9-7 edge. After a point earned by Shreiner cut the deficit down to 9-8, kills from Melbardis and Gardner capped a 3-0 run pushing the lead to 12-8 causing a timeout by the Falcons. The visiting side trimmed the advantage to one with a kill by Sands bringing it to 14-13. Kills from Shorts and Reynolds gave Stevenson their largest lead of the frame at 20-15, but points by Warren and Hunsberger kept the Falcons in it 21-18. Shorts, Smiley, and Gardner had the answer to Messiah push as they each picked up a kill as the Mustangs outscored the guests 4-3 down the stretch to grab the set and the match 25-21.
The Mustangs as a team hit .267 on 35 kills, while Messiah hit .087 and totaled 33 kills. The Falcons held the edge on the service line picking up five aces to the Mustangs one. The host had five solo blocks and ten assisted ones, to the visitors two solos with two block assists.
The Mustangs will be back in action on Saturday, March, 24 when they travel to Wilkes-Barre, Pa. for a Middle Atlantic Conference match at Wilkes University. First serve against the Colonels is set for 2pm.