UNION, N.J. – The No. 5 Marymount men's volleyball team booked its first trip to the CVC Championship on Friday night, topping the CVC East No. 2 seed Rutgers-Newark in four sets for the program's first postseason victory.
Marymount was paced on the offensive end by a match-high 18 kills by senior TJ Wiechecki and 16 by sophomore Sam Safley. Junior Eric Wiles missed double-digit kills by one with nine for the night, while adding eight digs. Senior Erich Bratke dished out a match-high 44 assists, and senior Connor Choate dove out for a match-high 12 digs.
Set one had the Scarlet Raiders leading for much of the game, but the Saints rallied back from a five-point deficit to tie the set up at 15-15. Four ties later, Marymount rattled off four-straight points, three of which were errors on Rutgers-Newark and a kill by Wiechecki to take a 22-20 lead.
Rutgers wouldn't go away without a fight though, forcing three more ties all of which were following set-point opportunities for the Saints before Marymount put the final touch on the game with a kill by Safley and an attack error by the Raiders to take it 27-25.
Game two played out similar towards the beginning with Rutgers jumping ahead early, but the difference was it held throughout. The Raiders built up as much as an eight-point lead twice; however, the Saints didn't surrender the game. Marymount cut the deficit to three late, and hit two-straight points on Rutgers' set point. But in the end, the lead held out for the 25-22 decision for the Raiders.
A much-needed momentum swing came in set three when the Saints came back from a four-point deficit midway through the game. A 6-2 run for MU had things all knotted up at 18-18 before the two squads traded advantages several times. The final exchange went in the favor of MU at 21-20, using a 5-1 stretch to close out the third set, 25-21, to take a 2-1 advantage in the match. Wiechecki had a kill in the run, and Safely added two including the set point.
The fourth and final set was all Marymount, holding the Raiders to just three kills on their lowest kill percentage of -.095 while putting down 16 kills of its own on its best kill percentage of .423. Safley put away six kill in the effort and Wiechecki added five, along with two each by freshman Evan Flesher and Wiles to guide the Saints to a blistering 25-15 win and match victory.
With the victory, the Saints advance to Saturday's title match against overall top seed and No. 4 Kean University. The Cougars rolled past Eastern Mennonite in the other semifinal match on Friday evening in straight sets. Start time is set for 3 p.m., in Harwood Arena.