BENNINGTON, Vt. – Collecting its second win in as many nights, the Southern Vermont College men's volleyball team defeated The Sage Colleges Thursday night by a 3-2 score at the Mountaineer Athletic Center in non-conference action.
SVC, which improves to 5-6 on the season, won the match with set scores of 25-19, 15-25, 25-19, 24-26, and 15-10. The Gators drop to 1-9 on the year with the loss.
Sage topped Southern Vt. with a 54-49 advantage in kills, but the Mountaineers limited their attacking errors to just 25 compared to 33 on the Gators' end. The teams were even at the net, defensively, with both squads totaling 12 block assists and another three solos.
Mountaineer junior Keven Walley (Pico Rivera, Calif.) had a brilliant performance with a match-high 18 kills and only three hitting errors on 35 attempts (.429) while adding six digs, three service aces and a pair of block assists. Junior Joey Dighton (Riverside, Calif.) added 12 kills, three block assists and two solos while junior Scott Fitzgerald (Fort Edward, N.Y.), playing against his former team, matched with another 12 kills to go with his team-best 14 digs. Senior setter Anthony Ayala (Pico Rivera, Calif.) totaled 40 assists on the night, and junior libero Florentino Escovedo (Fresno, Calif.) added 13 digs and three assists in the win.
Gator senior captain Dylan Krowicki (Little Falls, N.Y.) led the team with 17 kills, adding a match-high 22 digs, two service aces and two block assists to his line. Senior captain Connor Thompson (Delmar, N.Y.) got in on the scoring with 12 kills and two service aces while helping defensively with five block assists, a solo block and two digs. Freshman opposite Chris MacArthur (Hillsdale, N.Y.) also recorded 12 kills on the night while senior setter Matthew DeGeyter (Hudson, N.Y.) assisted Sage 43 times. Senior libero Corey Gransbury (Round Top, N.Y.) chipped in with 17 digs in the effort.
The opening set saw Southern Vt. jump out to a 10-2 lead with the help of Gator errors. Sage stuck around, however, and trimmed it to an 18-14 lead after a 6-0 run that included Thompson's two aces from behind the line. Both teams kept at it, swapping serves with a stretch that saw six-of-seven points get scored by way of the kill. With the Gators trailing 23-19, a service error gave the ball back to Southern Vt., allowing Dighton to serve up an ace for the set victory.
A different offense from the Sage side came out in the second frame when the visitors used the attack carefully to take the game convincingly. The Gators committed only two hitting errors in the set while recording 14 kills on 24 attempts for an even .500 hitting percentage. Up 7-5, Sage rattled off the next six points to take a commanding 13-5 lead that would not be relinquished. The Mountaineers scored three straight in the late going, but it was too little, too late as the Gators walked to the 25-15 win to tie up the match. Sage junior Juan Polanco (Bronx, N.Y) was a force in the second, getting up to block two Mountaineer attacks by himself and adding a third block assist to go with two kills.
Those offensive numbers would not carry into the third for Sage, however, as the Gators struggled with their attack in the middle set. Both teams had seven attacking errors in the game, but Sage recorded only six kills to the Mountaineers' 12. Southern Vt. still had to work for the win, finding itself down 11-7 after a handling error was called on Ayala. SVC used a timeout to regroup and returned to action with a different look. With senior Anthony Barahona (Eagle Rock, Calif.) on the serve, the Mountaineers scored 11 unanswered points with seven kills, five off the arm of Walley. SVC kept its cushion through the latter end of the frame before putting it away with a Fitzgerald kill.
Southern Vt. went on a 5-0 run early in the fourth to go up 9-5, all five points due to Sage hitting errors. The Gators were able to recompose and chip away at the lead before tying the set at 11-11 and then 13-13 before taking a 17-16 lead. Barahona again made an impact from behind the line, serving while the Mountaineers scored the next six points to retake the upper hand. With their backs to the wall, Sage was able to extend the match by scoring six of the next seven points to go up 24-23. Walley slammed one home to tie it at 24 apiece, but the Gators closed it out with a Krowicki kill and a Walley error.
Sage carried its momentum into the deciding set, going ahead 7-4 after an SVC mishap, but three consecutive mistakes on the Gators' end kept the Mountaineers in it. MacArthur put one down to give the visitors a quick advantage as Southern Vt. tallied the next five with two more kills from Walley. Sage grabbed two back to make it a 12-10 game in favor of SVC, but the Mountaineers ended the night with a pair of kills followed by another Gator hitting error.
Southern Vt. turns back to New England Collegiate Conference action Saturday when the Mountaineers host Lesley University at 1 p.m. in the front-end of a tri-match; the Mountaineers later take on the Community College of Rhode Island in an exhibition. Sage also returns to action with a pair on Saturday, first facing New Jersey City University (11:30 a.m.) and then Polytechnic Institute of New York University (1:30 p.m.), both being played at the College of Mount Saint Vincent.