ELMIRA, N.Y. – The 2017 season is underway for the Marymount (Va.) University men's volleyball team, and it started out in impressive fashion with a 3-1 (27-29, 25-20, 25-19, 25-18) victory on the road Friday night over Elmira College.
Elmira, who sat just outside of the AVCA Top 15 Preseason poll with 12 votes, put up a good fight against the Saints, taking the first set in extra points. But that's as far as it would go for the Soaring Eagles, as Marymount put the match away with the next three sets to earn the season-opening win.
Missing the first set by one point in regulation due to a block assist on set point by the Eagles, the game would eventually slip away in extra points, 29-27. The Saints, however, wouldn't hang on the close defeat, firing back in the second set.
The game remained close, but after a 3-0 run early to take a 5-2 advantage, the Saints wouldn't trail for the rest of the set. Later in the game, a five-point stretch for MU solidified the momentum for the Saints that continued for the rest of the match. In the run, sophomore James Knight laid down a kill, sophomore Eric Wiles landed a service ace and Knight and junior Graham Clark set up a wall for a block assist.
Taking set two, 25-20, the fire was lit for the Saints; not trailing in set three throughout. Small runs at different points in the set slowly spread the lead to as much as six. Closing out the set, three-straight points off a Wiles' kill and a service ace by junior Erich Bratke was capped off by a hard kill by junior TJ Wiechecki to seal up the 25-19 win.
A slow start to the fourth set had the Saints trailing 5-0 before a kill by Wiechecki finally put them on the board. Marymount remained composed in the deficit, chipping away at the Elmira lead until a five-point run capped off by a Wiles' kill would give the Saints their first advantage of the game. Wiles had two kills in the stretch while senior Tomasz Ksiazkiewicz landed two service aces.
The Saints were able to keep the momentum through the rest of the set, eventually taking the final two points off kills by Wiechecki and Wiles to seal up the 25-18 decision, and take the match 3-1.
Wiechecki started up his junior season with a game-high 18 kills off a .400 hitting percentage, while adding three aces, eight digs and two block assists. Ksiaskiewicz and Wiles added eight kills apiece for the night, as Ksiaskiewicz bolstered a .700 hitting percentage off his 10 total attempts. Junior Jordan Pawlicki guided the offense for the night with 20 assists, and Bratke wasn't too far behind with 17. On the defensive end, junior Connor Choate dove out for 10 digs in his first match as a libero.
The men will continue their trip in New York tomorrow night, as they head North to Rochester for a matchup against No. 7 Nazareth College. First serve is set for 7 p.m.