OWINGS MILLS, Md. – The Stevenson men's volleyball team cruised to a convincing first set victory and then had to fend off a very game Alvernia University squad to take the match 3-0 on Wednesday night at Owings Mills Gymnasium in the semi-finals of the inaugural Middle Atlantic Conference tournament.
Stevenson (20-8), continued their strong late-season surge as they won their eighth straight match by set scores of 25-12, 25-21, and 25-23.
Junior Jason Gardner led the way with a game-high 10 kills hitting .240 adding eight digs and one block. The freshman duo of Logan Smiley and Nate Reynolds both picked up seven kills joining together for seven blocks and three digs. Junior Landon Shorts chipped in six kills, six digs, and a service ace. Sophomore libero Derek Tangorra posted a game-high 14 digs. Setting pair junior Jared Chin and freshman Aleks Melbardis combined for 28 assists with Chin recording a team-high 15.
Alvernia (12-16), was paced by seven kills each from Collin Welteroth and Spencer Matthews, combining for seven digs as well. Logan McGinley added six kills, six digs, and a block. While Anthony Dadson in combination with Victor de Avila posted ten kills, six digs, and two blocks. Setter Justin Gibbs dished out a match-high 25 assists.
The Mustangs fell behind 1-0 early on a block from Dadson but quickly responded with a kill by Shorts and a pair of visitor errors to take a 3-1 edge. The Golden Wolves came back with three straight to push ahead 4-3. Kills from Reynolds and Dadson put things on level terms 5-5. Stevenson came galloping back using kills by Reynolds (2), Gardner, and five Alvernia miscues to go on a 9-1 run to take a nine-point lead 15-6. Both teams scored two of the next four points keeping the margin at nine, but that did not last long as the Green and White saw kills from Gardner (2) and Shorts extending to the advantage to 22-9. A sharing of the following six points was not good enough to keep the Golden Wolves alive in the set as a kill from Smiley capped the first 25-12.
In the second, Alvernia got out of the blocks quick once again taking a 3-1 lead. The home side scored four of the next six to draw even 5-5 on a service error by de Avila. From there the Mustangs appeared to take control of the frame with a pair of kills from Smiley to go along with a Shorts ace to snag an 11-6 edge. Stevenson maintained the five-point margin all the way to 15-10 on a kill by senior Alex Klunk. The Golden Wolves took advantage of a Welteroth kill and a combination block between de Avila and McGinley to trim the deficit down to 16-13. A pair of kills by Reynolds and a solo from Shorts pushed the edge back out to five at 19-14 prompting an Alvernia timeout. The visiting side then mounted a 4-1 run to close the gap down to two 20-18. Stevenson outscored the Golden Wolves down the stretch 5-3 to grab the set 25-21.
The third frame began about as tight as it could as the two sides were tied eight times in the opening 18 points. A kill by McGinley and a ball-handling error by Chin sent the guests ahead 11-9. However, kills from Smiley (2), Reynolds, and Gardner nudged the hosts back in front 12-11 causing an Alvernia timeout. Stevenson held onto the one-point edge as the teams shared the next six points keeping the slim margin of 15-14. With the score 16-16, a pair of Golden Wolves miscues handed the Mustangs two points to go up 18-16, but a pair of Welteroth kills to go along with a solo from Matthews gave the away the momentum and a 20-18 lead. The Green and White answered back with a 4-1 run of their own on scores from Klunk and Shorts to recapture the advantage 22-21. After an Alvernia timeout, the Golden Wolves got a de Avila kill and home error to surge ahead 23-22. Unfortunately, for the guest that was as close as they would get to staying alive in the match as a combination block by Reynolds and Melbardis to go along with a Shorts kill finished the set and the match 25-23.
The Mustangs as a team hit .259 on 36 kills, while Alvernia hit .089 and totaled 28 kills. Stevenson shared the ball more picking up 34 assists to the Golden Wolves 27. The home side held a slim edge on the service line with four aces to the guests three.
The top-seeded Mustangs will be back in action on Saturday, April, 14 when they host the third-seeded Arcadia University in the Championship match of the inaugural Middle Atlantic Conference tournament. Arcadia defeated the second seed Messiah by scores of 23-25, 25-23, 25-21, and 25-16. First serve against the Knights is set for 2pm.