NEWARK, N.J.— With two matches left in Continental Volleyball Conference play, the No. 9 Marymount (Va.) University men's volleyball team sealed up the title of Regular Season Champions and the top seed of the postseason tournament with a four-set victory over Rutgers University-Newark on Friday night, 3-1 (25-23, 25-22, 19-25, 25-20).
In just the fourth year of the program, Head Coach Hudson Bates and the Saints have grabbed the team's first top seed in the CVC Tournament, earning the right to host the full tournament on Marymount's campus. The semifinals are set for Friday, April 14, with the champion being crowned on Saturday, April 15.
The Saints fell behind early in set one, when an error committed by Rutgers gave the Saints an opportunity to post a comeback. MU capitalized and registered a 6-1 run to tie the set at 10 all. Both squads remained neck-and-neck, with neither team garnering more than a two-point lead until the home stretch. In the final points, freshman Sam Safley notched five crucial kills, including one on set point, and junior Ben Steranka and sophomore Alex Treser added a block to push the Saints to victory, 25-23.
MU trailed 4-0 in set two, when Treser answered with a block for the Saints. Several small runs allowed the blue and white to get back within two, 17-15. A late push by the Saints tied the set at 20 apiece. MU added another four-straight points to take a commanding 23-20 lead before Steranka put down the final kill of the set to give Saints a two-set lead, 25-22.
Both squads traded points to start set three, before MU fell behind mid-set. The blue and white rallied back to cut the deficit to one, 18-17, but the comeback wasn't enough, and Marymount fell short, 25-19.
The momentum shifted in favor of the Saints and MU jumped ahead 2-0 in set four. The blue and white posted another five-straight points to pull ahead, 11-6. Marymount kept its lead through the remainder of the set, as Steranka notched another set-point kill to close out the match in favor of the Saints, 25-20.
Safley posted a team-high 12 kills to pace the Saints on the offensive end. Junior Jordan Pawlicki and freshman Joseph Zanelotti split time in the setter position, registering 24 and 14 assists, respectively. On the defensive end, junior Connor Choate notched a team-high 13 digs.
The men will round out CVC play on Saturday, April 1 at Cairn University for a league tri-match. The Saints take on host Highlanders at 11 a.m., followed by a matchup against Alvernia University at 1 p.m.