UNION, N.J. (4/16/16) – The No. 10 Kean University men's volleyball team earned a gritty 3-1 victory over Endicott College in the First Round of the 2016 NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Championship at home on Saturday night. Kean won the first two sets by identical 25-21 scores and hung on for a 25-23 triumph in the fourth to touch off the celebration.
The Cougars will advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the fifth-straight season and will take on second-seed and three-time NCAA National Champion Springfield College on Friday in Rochester, New York.
Kean fell behind 6-4 in the opening set, but scored seven of the next eight points to take an 11-7 lead. Steve Schrank started the Kean run with an ace. On the second set point, Jared Warner's attack was re-directed into the stands by Endicott as the Cougars took it 25-21. Bill Fischer hit .500 in the opener and had five kills in the first set.
The Cougars picked up right where they left off, and scored five of the first seven points in the second set. A big block by Schrank and Tommy Rosario put Kean up 11-7.
Rosario got a kill for the 15th point of the second set and sent the teams to the mandated media timeout with the Cougars up 15-10. Kean increased its lead to a high of six, and hung on to win by the same score as the opener, 25-21.
The third set was tighter to start, and the teams were tied at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 before Endicott scored six-straight to take its largest lead of the night. Connor Evans helped end the Kean slide with two kills in short succession. Still, EC hung on to win the third set 25-19 and end Kean's 32-set winning streak.
The fourth set was also tied five times (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) before Endicott got two-straight to go up 7-5. Kean caught up at 10-10 on a kill by Shayron Taylor and took the lead on a combo block by Taylor and Nicholas Buseski.
The clubs stayed close after that; the score was 15-14 Gulls at the media timeout. Rosario got a kill to tie and then had a big stuff to put Kean up for the first time in the set, 16-15. Evans had back-to-back kills that put the Cougars up 20-17.
A triple block by Buseski, Taylor and Warner got Kean to quintuple match point. The Cougars needed every one of those opportunities, but they ultimately triumphed 25-23 on an Endicott error to earn the program's second NCAA win.
Fischer (13), Evans (12) and Rosario (10) were all in double figures in kills. Schrank had 32 assists and Kevin Barrow added 16 helpers. Nick Breslin (pictured left) dug out a season-best 15 balls for the Cougars and added an assist.
Kean outblocked the Gulls 9-6, though EC did outhit the Cougars .213 to .199. Troy Riorden had 15 kills to lead Endicott.
EC ends the season with a 17-11 record. The Cougars will take a 31-6 record into the NCAA Quarterfinals next week.