No. 11 Saints topple No. 8 Royals to complete season sweep

No. 11 Saints topple No. 8 Royals to complete season sweep

HARRISONBURG, Va.— The No. 11 Marymount (Va.) University men's volleyball squad upset No. 8 Eastern Mennonite University for the second time this season on Wednesday evening, in a Continental Volleyball Conference five-set thriller, 3-2 (25-23, 23-25, 26-24, 27-29, 15-11).

The Saints went to work early in set one, building a 3-0 lead after a kill from junior TJ Wiechecki and back-to-back aces by junior Erich Bratke. The Royals clawed their way back into the matchup, eventually taking an 11-7 lead before the Saints used a timeout. MU capitalized on three-straight errors committed by EMU, tying the game at 14 all. Both squads traded points until Bratke connected with senior Tomasz Ksiazkiewicz for the final point of the set, giving the Saints set one, 25-23.

The momentum shifted back-and-forth in the second game, with neither team seeing more than a two-point lead. Wiechecki bolstered nine kills for the Saints including one down the stretch, but Marymount fell short, 25-22. 

Marymount pieced together a 3-0 run mid-set to take a 9-7 lead in the third game, forcing Eastern Mennonite to burn a timeout. EMU rallied back with a 4-0 run of its own, this time forcing MU to use a timeout. The Royals held onto the lead until the Saints mounted a 5-0 run to push ahead 22-20. The blue and white fell behind towards the end, 24-23, but pushed through to score three-straight points, earning the win in extra points, 26-24.

After trailing early, sophomore Eric Wiles notched a kill and sparked a 3-0 run to pull ahead 8-7 in the fourth set. Wiles later bolstered back-to-back aces to keep a two-point advantage, 15-13. Wiechecki and Wiles also added two-straight kills in a crucial point of the set, pushing the Saints ahead 23-21. An impressive rally ended on a kill by sophomore Remington Shahan, MU on top 24-23. The Royals didn't back down, however, eventually pushing ahead, 25-24. But, the Saints dropped set four, 29-27, as the match was sent to a deciding set. 

Set five proved to be a battle from the start, with both squads trading points before Marymount pieced together a 3-0 to take a 9-7 lead. EMU battled back and tied it at 9-9, forcing the Saints to use a timeout. Wiles notched a kill out of the timeout, putting the Saints back on top,10-9, and followed with an ace, 11-9. Freshman Sam Safley and Wiechecki each added a kill in the final points of the set, giving MU a three-point advantage, 14-11, before the blue and white prevailed on top, 15-11, to remain atop the CVC. 

Wiechecki garnered a game- and career-high 31 kills to pace the Saints on the offensive end. Eight other Saints added a kill, and Bratke tallied 47 assists for the offense. On the defensive end, Wiles notched 13 digs, and Ksiazkiewicz put up seven total blocks. 

The men will host one final matchup on their home court in the regular season, hosting No. 4 Vassar College on Friday, March 24. First serve is set for 6 p.m.