UNION, N.J. – In an AVCA top-five matchup, the No. 5 Marymount men's volleyball team clashed with No. 4 Kean University on Saturday afternoon in the CVC Championship, a match neither team has been a part of. After four sets, the Cougars came out on top with sets of 25-21, 25-22, 25-27, 25-15.
The Saints built up a lead in set one, holding onto it until the late part of the game. However, the Cougars crawled back into the set, including a 5-1 stretch to give the match its first draw at 19-19. Kean continued to control the late momentum, using a 6-2 spurt to closeout the set, 25-21, and take a 1-0 lead in the title match. Through set one, sophomore Sam Safley led the offense with a set-high nine kills on a .500 kill percentage. On 30 set attempts, senior Erich Bratke recorded 15 assists.
The second game played out similar, just for the opposite team. The Cougars jumped ahead, and although there was a tie early on, they built up as much as a seven-point lead in the set. With grit, the Saints battled back tying the set up in a similar point of game one, at 19-19 after a 5-1 stretch. The set remained tight the rest of the way, but MU never led, falling 25-22 to go down 2-0 in the match.
In a must-win set, Marymount found itself at an advantage over the midway mark of game three, building up a four-point lead at 15-11 following a Safley kill. Inevitably, the score found itself knotted up at 19-19 for the third-straight set with all eyes on who can grind out the victory. Down the stretch, there were four more ties including three times that the Saints had it at set point.
With it all tied up at 24-24, Head Coach Dan Liberto called the squad's final timeout, which proved useful. Senior TJ Wiechecki fired down a kill before Kean did the same to tie it up one last time. The final two points went to the Saints off another Wiechecki kill and an attack error by the Cougars, ending the set 27-25 in favor of MU to send it to a fourth set.
The fourth game played much in the favor of the Cougars, holding a lead throughout. Marymount made several small runs to cut the deficit, but Kean kept the momentum to take the final set, 25-15.
At the conclusion of the match, Safley and Wiechecki were named to the All-Tournament team. Safley finished the day with a match-high 15 kills, and Wiechecki added 11.
Bratke closed out the day with 41 assists and eight digs, while senior Connor Choate dove out for a match-high 11 digs.
Marymount awaits its fate to see if they earn the program's first bid into the NCAA Tournament on Monday, April 16 at 10 a.m.