By Mike Nosek
BENNINGTON, Vt. – Southern Vermont College's 2018 men's volleyball home opener was spoiled by The Sage Colleges Tuesday night as the visiting Gators took to a 3-0 non-conference win at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.
Sage grabbed the victory with straight-set scores of 25-9, 25-4, and 25-7.
The Mountaineers (0-5) are set to begin New England Collegiate Conference action with their next match as SVC hosts Elms College on Thursday for a 7 p.m. start. Sage (4-5) gears up for a weekend tournament at Penn State Behrend with the Gators starting that event at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday against Whittenberg University.
SVC sophomore Te Hayward (Baltimore, Md.) led the team offensively with four kills while junior Isaiah Backels (Derry, N.H.) had five assists and four digs for the hosts. Freshman Zach Rogers (North Bennington, Vt.) had a pair of kills in the effort.
The Gators utilized a balanced offense which saw 11 players record a kill. Senior captain Ryan Guyton (Lockport, N.Y.) had the most with seven, and he didn't have a single hitting error on eight swings to notch an .875 attack percentage; he also recorded five aces in the win. Sophomore Shane Wenz (Valatie, N.Y.) had six kills in addition to a match-best eight digs, and freshman Ryan Jennings (No. Brunswick, N.J.) popped up 21 assists for the visitors.
Sage never trailed throughout the night as the Gators won the opening points of each set. Rogers and SVC sophomore Carlos Rivera (Washington, D.C.) landed back-to-back kills to make it just a 4-3 deficit early in the first, but the Gators then went on a 15-2 run to pull away; Guyton had three kills in that stretch while sophomore Jarod Martel (Albany, N.Y.) served up three aces.
The visitors carried their momentum into the second to go up 13-2 on the back of three aces from Jennings and a pair of kills by sophomore Scott Sanders (Los Angeles, Calif.). Sanders then registered three aces to help Sage finish the game on a 12-1 surge and go up 2-0 in the match.
Hayward ripped an attack off the top of the Gator block in the onset of the third to make it a 3-2 Sage advantage—only to see his opponent respond with a 9-1 burst aided by three kills from sophomore Tyler Schnaible (Ballston Lake, N.Y.). Nine unanswered Gator points soon-after, which included three Wenz kills, made way for Sage to finish it off and grab its second consecutive victory.