ALBANY, NY – Junior Bailey Cecchi (Agawam, MA/Agawam) hit a match-high 16 kills with a .565 hitting percentage in Sage's 3-0 (25-16, 25-15, 25-22) win over Bard College Wednesday night.
Prior to the start of the match, lone senior Chris MacArthur (Ancram, Ny/Taconic Hills) was honored for his dedication to Sage volleyball. The opposite hitter has been a three-year captain having played in 108 matches, the second most in school history. The honorary senior finished the night with five kills, three assists, three digs and one block.
Cecchi ended the night with 16.5 points while sophomore Austin Laverty (Schenectady, NY/Mohonasen) led the match with 27 assists and three aces. Laverty, Ryan Guyton (Lockport, NY/Lockport) and William Rivera (Springfield, MA/Springfield Central) combined for 15 digs on defense while Shane Wenz (Valatie, NY/Ichabod Crane) came up with a match-high blocks.
On the other side of the net, Shane McDonald and Alex Adams combined for 14.5 points on 11 kills, four blocks and one ace. Setter Mahir Sheikh came up with 20 assists for the Raptors while Tyler Zowaski led Bard (5-21) came up with six digs.
In set one, Sage (15-14) jumped out to a 3-10 lead on the backs of Cecchi, Wenz, Laverty and Zackery Karl (West Monroe, NY/Central Square). Bard responded with a 4-1 run until Sage scored four straight points to take their largest lead of the set. Down 16-8, a McDonald kill and a block from Adams and McDonald cut the lead cut the lead down to 16-10. However, Sage went on a 5-2 run to take a 21-12 advantage. The Raptors then went on a 4-1 run, but Sage answered with three straight points to take the set 25-16.
Up 1-0 in the match, the Gators came out swinging in the first set to go up 9-0. After swapping points for eight serves, Sage went on a 4-1 run to take a 16-6 lead. Both teams went back-and-forth trading points, but Sage held on to take the set 25-15.
Bard took its first lead of the match in the third set when the Raptors went up 6-3 on kills from McDonald, Kozul and Stefan Briggs. The Raptors would then go on to take their largest lead of the match on a Briggs ace to bring the score to 10-6. However, it didn't last long as Sage went on a 12-6 run led by MacAthur, Cecchi and Guyton to go up 18-16. Bard responded with three unanswered points to reclaim a 19-18 lead. The momentum switch Sage's way when the Gators went on a 4-0 run to take a 22-19. Sage held on for the remainder of the third set to take it 25-22 and the match 3-0.
With his performance tonight, Cecchi is 43 points away from becoming the fourth Sage player to hit his 1,000th career point. Additionally, Wenz moved into tenth place in single-season block assists with 43, passing Hussnain Hussain (2010). The freshman also tied ninth place Connor Thompson (2012) in single-season block solos with 16 total.
With the last days of the regular season approaching, the Gators are currently in the sixth and final playoff with a 4-3 record. Kean, the five-time defending Skyline Champion, is in the top spot with a perfect 7-0 record while they are followed by Ramapo and Mount Saint Vincent with 6-1 records. In the fourth and fifth place spots are Purchase and St. Joseph's – Long Island with 4-3 records.
Sage wraps up Skyline and regular season play on Sat., Apr. 8 as the Gators are set to take on Ramapo at 4 p.m. and Purchase at 5:30 p.m. at Ramapo College.