UNION, N.J. (1/12/17) – The No. 10 Kean University men's volleyball team opened the 2017 season by hosting the Kean Winter Classic on Thursday and sweeping away Endicott College and the College of Mount Saint Vincent. The Cougars dropped just one set combined over the two matches.
Down 21-15 to Endicott in the opening set of the season, the Cougars found their groove. Jacob Kauffman got two-straight kills, then Jared Warner earned two-straight to force an EC timeout. After the stoppage, back-to-back Endicott errors tied the set at 21. The set was tied again at 23, when an EC error followed by an ace by Kauffman gave the Cougars the improbable comeback victory.
In set two, the Cougars increased their defensive dominance, holding Endicott to a .000 hitting percentage as Kean won 25-18. There was even less drama in the third, where Kean won 25-13 and outhit the Gulls .478 to -.043.
Warner hit .833 in the match, getting 10 kills on 12 swings with no errors. Kauffman led the team with a dozen kills.
Bryn Lipton led the Gulls with seven kills.
With a new lineup in after winning 25-14 in the opening set against Mt. St. Vincent, the Cougars needed a little time to warm up in the second set. Jacob Milnazik made his collegiate debut in the second set and the Cougars had a total of five new starters. Mt. St. Vincent won an entertaining 26-24 second set to knot the match at one set apiece.
Down 19-20 in the third, the Cougars asserted themselves with four-straight points with Kamil Garbowski serving. That finally put the Dolphins away as Kean took it 25-21. Taylor had four kills on four swings to lead Kean in the set that featured 11 ties and five lead changes.
The fourth set was also tight. Overall, there were 34 ties and 13 lead changes in the match with the Dolphins. Kean finally found breathing room thanks to five kills by Kauffman in the fourth.
Capp and Kevin Barrow split the setting duties with 23 assists each in the match. Steve Schrank led the team in digs from his new position as libero, and Nico Mercadante (pictured left) ripped off a team-best four aces. Kean had eight total blocks, led by Taylor's five.
Tyler Cucullu led the Dolphins with nine kills in the match. Though CMSV is a fellow Skyline Conference member, Thursday's match did not count as a conference contest.
The Cougars will return to host the final day of the Kean Winter Classic on Friday against Benedictine University and Cairn University beginning at 11 a.m.