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No. 9 Saints push No. 5 Vassar to limit, fall short in AVCA Top-10 showdown

No. 9 Saints push No. 5 Vassar to limit, fall short in AVCA Top-10 showdown

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y.— The No. 9 Marymount (Va.) University men's volleyball squad dropped a thriller to No. 5 Vassar College in a five-set showdown on Wednesday night, 3-2 (16-25, 22-25, 25-23, 35-33, 12-15).

The Saints got off to an early 2-0 jump over the Brewers, following back-to-back kills from junior Graham Clark and sophomore Eric Wiles. Marymount was unable to maintain the lead, and fell 25-16 in set one. 

MU pieced together an impressive 4-0 run to open set two led by Clark who notched another kill. The Saints maintained control of the tempo until the Brewers recuperated and tied the set at 17 all. The set remained close before the Saints fell short again, 25-22.

In set three, junior TJ Wiechecki bolstered a kill and followed with a service ace, tying set three at five apiece. Both squads continued trading points with neither team garnering more than a two-point advantage. The Saints closed out the set on top with back-to-back kills from Wiechecki and senior Tomasz Ksiazkiewicz, 25-23.

Set four proved to be the toughest battle yet, with neither team willing to throw in the towel,forcing the set into extra points.  The Saints built a four-point advantage heading late into the set, but the Brewers rallied back with a 4-0 run to tie it at 20-20. Junior Erich Bratke fed Wiechecki, Ksiazkiewicz and freshman Shane Limbaugh who combined for 15 kills to push the Saints past the Brewers, 35-33.  

The momentum carried over into set five, allowing the Saints to strike first off a kill from Wiles. The Saints, however, quickly fell behind and used a timeout to collect themselves after trailing, 6-3. Marymount mounted a comeback, registering a 3-0 run led by back-to-back kills from Wiechecki. The run brought the Saints back within two, 12-10, but the last-ditch effort wasn't enough as the Saints fell, 15-12.

Wiechecki continued to piece together an impressive season, bolstering a career- and game-high 29 kills, while hitting .322, and notched 11 digs on the defensive end. Clark also registered 10 kills on the offensive end.

Bratke, who was recently recognized as the Continental Volleyball Conference and AVCA National Player of the Week for his efforts last weekend, continued to impress tonight, bolstering a career-and game-high 54 assists. Junior Connor Choate also registered a career- and game-high 23 digs on the defensive end.

The Saints will continue on the road to face No. 1 Springfield College on Thursday, March 9. First serve is set for 6 p.m.