No. 15 Saints top reigning CVC champion Mustangs for first time in program history

No. 15 Saints top reigning CVC champion Mustangs for first time in program history

ARLINGTON, Va.— The No. 15 Marymount (Va.) University men's volleyball squad battled past the reigning Continental Volleyball Conference Champions for the first time in program history on Wednesday night, defeating the Mustangs in a five-set thriller, 3-2 (25-22, 25-23, 22-25, 20-25, 22-20).

The Saints fell behind early in set one, forcing Head Coach Hudson Bates, to take a timeout mid-way though the set, 11-9. Marymount pieced together a 3-0 run shortly after led by senior Tomasz Ksiazkiewicz, 16-16. Both teams traded points before the Saints used another time after trailing 21-19. Junior Graham Clark put the ball down with force out of the timeout, sparking a 3-0 run to give MU a 22-21 lead. The Mustangs committed back-to-back errors and the Saints prevailed on top, 25-22.

MU jumped to an early 2-0 lead, and later pulled ahead following a 4-0 run led by freshman Shane Limbaugh with an ace. Sophomore Eric Wiles and junior TJ Wiechecki notched back-to-back kills to give Marymount a four-point advantage, 14-10. Junior Erich Bratke fed Wiles for the final point of the set, putting Marymount on top, 25-23, to take a 2-0 lead in the sets. 

The blue and white took an early lead in set three, but fell behind after the Mustangs rallied back. In a last-ditch effort, the Saints pieced together a 4-0 run. Stevenson was forced to use a timeout after the Saints cut the deficit to two, 24-22. MU's effort wasn't enough, however, falling short, 25-22.

Wiles notched a kill to start set four, but the Mustang offense was too much for the Saints to handle. The blue and white trailed 13-9 before using a timeout to settle. Wiechecki added a kill towards the end of the set, but it wasn't enough to overcome the deficit and MU fell, 25-20, to send the match into a deciding set. 

In the fifth set, the Saints went to work early on, jumping ahead 7-4, forcing Stevenson to use a timeout. Clark and Ksiazkiewicz added two more kills and took advantage of a Mustang error to pull ahead 11-7. SU was forced to use its last timeout, which proved effective as they rallied back to get within one, 13-12. Following a timeout by Marymount, Stevenson tied the game at 13 all. Both squads traded points, forcing the deciding set into extra points. Bratke connected with Clark for the final point of the match, giving the Saints the victory, 22-20. 

The Saints offense was spread out, seeing several Saints notch more than 10 kills. Wiechecki pieced together an impressive performance, bolstering a game-high 17 kills and adding 12 digs. Clark posted 11 kills while hitting .500, and added seven blocks. Wiles added 11 kills and five digs. Bratke notched a team-high 46 assists and posted nine digs. On the defensive end, junior Connor Choate scooped up eight digs.

The Saints will host CVC opponent Rutgers University-Newark on Friday, February 24. First serve is set for 7 p.m.