Saints rally for three-straight sets to top Thiel in five

Saints rally for three-straight sets to top Thiel in five

GREENVILLE, Pa.— The No. 11 Marymount (Va.) University men's volleyball team got back into action on Friday night, as it opened Continental Volleyball Conference play against Thiel College. The Saints battled past the Tomcats in a five-set thriller, prevailing on top, 3-2 (23-25, 22-25, 25-17, 25-22, 15-13).

MU came out swinging in set one to take an early 2-0 lead after back-to-back kills from sophomores Eric Wiles and Remington Shahan. The Saints built upon their lead until the Tomcats rallied back to tie the set at 14 all. Both squads battled it out before the Saints fell short, 25-23.

In set two, the Saints trailed before piecing together a 3-0 run to take a 4-3 advantage. The set remained close as the teams traded points with one another. Junior Connor Choate put down a kill late in the set to get back within two of the Tomcats, 24-22. The effort wasn't enough to overcome Thiel however, aa the Saints fell behind two sets, 25-22. 

Marymount pieced together a strong performance in set three, hitting a 5-0 run to pull ahead, 7-3. Later in the set, the Saints pushed ahead by seven following two kills from junior TJ Wiechecki and an error committed by the Tomcats, 18-11. MU rounded out set three on top, 25-17.

Set four proved to be a tough battle from the beginning, forcing several ties and lead changes. Marymount was forced to burn a timeout after trailing, 11-9. Coming out of the timeout, MU strung together small runs, eventually taking the lead, 20-19. Wiles added another kill to push the Saints lead to two, and forced the Tomcats to use a timeout of their own. Junior Ben Steranka finished the set in a convincing fashion in favor of the Saints, tying the match at two sets apiece, 25-22.

In the final set, Marymount trailed 13-11 heading into the home stretch. The Saints mounted a comeback using a 4-0 run to take set five, 15-13. Wiechecki ignited the run on a kill, and junior Erich Bratke connected once more with Wiechecki to end the set. 

Wiechecki paced the Saints on the offensive end, bolstering a tied game-high 17 kills, while diving out for nine digs on the defensive end. Wiles added 15 kills and three digs for the Saints. Bratke posted 28 assists, and junior Jordan Pawlicki added 14 assists. On the defensive end, Bratke also posted a team-high 12 digs. 

The Saints will pick up on Saturday, February 18, as they face off in two more CVC matchups against No. 14 Juniata and Alvernia. First serve is set for 1 p.m.