OWINGS MILLS, Md. – The Stevenson men's volleyball team celebrated senior Alex Klunk and Andy Van Thuyne prior to their regular-season finale on Sunday afternoon against Middle Atlantic Conference opponent Arcadia University. After a slow start that saw the Knights grab the first set, the Mustangs rallied back taking the next three to win by a final of 3-1 at Owings Mills Gymnasium.
Stevenson (19-8, 12-0 MAC), finished the season undefeated in the MAC and won their seventh straight match by set scores of 24-26, 25-18, 25-21, and 25-17.
Junior Jason Gardner led the way with a game-high 18 kills hitting .270, four digs and three assisted blocks. Classmate Landon Shorts finished with 13 kills as well as 13 digs and added a pair of service aces. Freshman Logan Smiley chipped in 15 kills and seven digs. Klunk and sophomore Kyle Bosko combined for 14 kills and five blocks. The setting duo of junior Jared Chin and freshman Aleks Melbardis handed out 48 assists with Chin handing out 29.
Arcadia (16-12, 9-3 MAC), was paced by eleven kills each from Jason Manley and Austin Braas. Braas also added four blocks including one solo, while Robie Moctezuma finished with four blocks as well and chipped in seven kills. Quinn Baily had nine kills to go with his five digs. Setter Anthony Devantier dished out a match-high 41 assists.
The teams got out to an even start as they shared the opening six points to be tied 3-3. A kill from Braas and an assisted block between Moctezuma and Edwin Waters Jr. gave the Knights a 5-3 edge. The Mustangs responded using kills by Smiley, Gardner, and Shorts to score four of the seven points trimming the deficit to 8-7. Consecutive scores from Manley opened it up to 10-7, but four straight Arcadia errors edged the Green and White ahead 11-10. The set would be tied at 11-11 and 12-12 before a kill from Moctezuma sent the guests in front 13-12. Two kills by Gardner and an assisted block from the pair of freshman Nate Reynolds and Melbardis gave Stevenson their largest lead of the first 16-13. The home side kept the three-point cushion all the way to 20-17 but then kills by Braas, Jarod Pichler, and Devantier leveled things at 20-20. Arcadia would take leads of 22-21, 23-22, and 24-23 but were answered by kills from Gardner as well as Smiley to keep the score locked 24-24. Unfortunately, a kill from Moctezuma and an assisted block wrapped up set one 26-24.
Set number two saw both teams go on early runs as the Knights jumped out 4-1 before Stevenson rallied back using an 8-1 push to take a 9-5 lead. Arcadia cut into the advantage nabbing six of the next ten bringing the margin down to 13-11. A pair of kills by Shorts and a solo from Gardner aided by an error gave the Mustangs a 17-13 edge. Waters added a kill to his total and with the help of two home miscues, it was back to a one-point game 17-16. However, this time Stevenson did not let the Knights back into the frame as Shorts (3), Gardner, Klunk, and Bosko capped off an impressive 8-2 gallop to even the score at a set apiece.
In the third, it was the Mustangs who snagged the early lead with kills from Gardner and Smiley as well as a Shorts ace gave them a 5-1 advantage. The two teams traded points back-and-forth over the next ten with the hosts still holding a four-point margin 10-6. An attack error coming off the arm of Shorts finished off a 6-1 push to give the Knights their first edge of the set at 12-11. Then much like in the first, the guests took leads of 13-12 and 14-13 before being answered by the home side. The frame would see ties of 16-16, 17-17, and 18-18 before two Arcadia mishits and a Gardner kill handed the Mustangs a 21-18 lead. Stevenson had three different players pick up kills as they outscored the Knights four to three down the stretch to win the set 25-21.
To open the fourth neither side could grab the momentum as they split the first eight scores to be tied 4-4. With Arcadia holding a one-point edge 5-4 kills by Bosko (2) and Shorts pushed the hosts ahead 8-7. A 3-1 run by the away team finished by a Moctezuma kills sent them in front 10-9. Kills coming from Shorts, Klunk, and Smiley nudged the Green and White back ahead 12-10. A Knight kill by Braas and an assisted block from duo Braas and Devantier knotted things 12-12, but scores by Shorts and Gardner pushed the lead to three 15-12. The ensuing six points were shared between the teams and the margin remained at three 18-15. Stevenson then turned up the heat looking to wrap up the match with kills from Smiley (2), Shorts, Klunk, and Gardner in addition to a Shorts ace finished off an 8-2 run to close the set and the match 25-17.
The Mustangs as a team hit .322 on 60 kills, while Arcadia hit .185 and totaled 47 kills. Stevenson shared the ball slightly more picking up 50 assists to the Knights 46. Both sides finished with two solo and 14 assisted blocks.
The top-seeded Mustangs will be back in action on Wednesday, April, 11 when they host the fourth-seeded Alvernia University in the semi-finals of the inaugural Middle Atlantic Conference tournament. The other semi-final will take place in Grantham, Pa. as the second-seeded Messiah College will entertain third-seeded Arcadia University. First serve against the Golden Wolves is set for 7pm.