ARLINGTON, Va.— An impressive performance by the No. 13 and top-seed Marymount (Va.) University men's volleyball team was not enough to overcome fourth-seeded Eastern Mennonite University in the Continental Volleyball Conference Tournament semifinal matchup on Friday afternoon, falling short in an intense five-set battle, 3-2 (25-17, 31-29, 18-25, 13-25, 12-15).
The men's squad strung together several small runs to take a commanding 13-7 lead in set one and forced an Eastern Mennonite timeout. Marymount continued to press on the offensive end, notching four-straight kills late in the set. Junior Ben Steranka added two while junior TJ Wiechecki and sophomore James Knight added a kill apiece for the Saints. Wiechecki notched his sixth kill of the match to end the set in favor of the Saints, 25-17.
After trailing 10-5, MU pieced together a 6-0 run to push ahead 14-11. Wiechecki led the run with another two kills. Both squads traded points down the stretch, forcing set two into extra points. Back-to-back kills by Wiechecki and senior Tomasz Ksiazkiewicz gave Saints an opportunity for set point, 30-29. EMU committed an error and the Saints prevailed on top, 31-29.
The Saints pushed ahead 6-5 in set three, but the Royals rallied back to tie the set at six apiece. The momentum shifted in favor of EMU and the Royals took over the lead. MU trailed 17-13 before rallying with a 3-0 run of its own to get within one, 17-16, however, the push wouldn't be enough to overcome the difference and the Saints fell short, 25-18.
The Saints fell behind 4-0 early in set four. Struggling to get the offense going, MU made several changes to the lineup. The Royals defense at the net proved to be too much and Marymount dropped set four, 25-13, to send the game to a deciding set.
Set five proved to be a fight from point one. Sophomore Remington Shahan put the ball down with force to strike first for the Saints, 1-0. Marymount pushed ahead 7-5 following a kill by Ksiazkiewicz. The Royals mounted a comeback and scored four-straight points to pull ahead, 9-7. The Saints used a timeout, and Ksiazkiewicz came out swinging to get back within one, 9-8. The blue and white went on to drop set five, 15-12.
Wiechecki continued his impressive 2017 campaign, tying his career-high with a game-high 31 kills, while also bolstering 10 digs and four total blocks. His performance earned him another accolade of the season, landing a spot on the All-Tournament squad. On the offensive end, Ksiazkiewicz also added 13 kills while hitting .321. Junior Erich Bratke connected with six different Saints to post a career-high 58 assists. On the defensive end, junior Connor Choate scooped up a game-high 20 digs.
The No. 13 Saints close out the season at 19-10, after making its third-straight appearance in the CVC semifinals.