UNION, N.J. (1/28/17) – The No. 10 Kean University men's volleyball team topped No. 7 Nazareth College in four sets and fended off a feisty Eastern Mennonite University team in five to sweep the final day of the Clash at Kean.
In the opening set against EMU, Kean earned six points in a row with Kauffman serving to go from down three points to up three. Kean won that with deceptive ease, 25-17.
The second set was much tighter and tied at 24-24. Kean turned to Jared Warner for back-to-back kills to make the count 26-24 and take a 2-0 lead.
In the third set, it was once again tied at 24, but this time EMU held off a Cougar comeback attempt to force another set.
The fourth went even deeper – a 27-25 final – and was also won by the Royals, setting up a winner-take-all fifth set.
An outstanding dig by Shayron Taylor followed by a block by Kevin Barrow (pictured left) put Kean up 11-9 after the Cougars had fallen behind early 3-0. The play sparked the home team and their supporters who had made the early trip to Harwood Arena for the 9 a.m. start. The Cougars pushed their lead and won going away on a service error with a 15-11 lead.
Kauffman hit .538 in the match with 24 kills – the most by a Cougar this season. He also notched two of Kean's three aces. Middles Shayron Taylor (.421) and Jared Warner (.471) also had remarkable matches.
Barrow picked up a double-double – the first for any Cougar this year – with a team-best 11 digs to go with his 53 assists. Taylor was in on six blocks, including three solo stops.
Against the seventh-ranked Golden Flyers, the two teams split the first two sets
A serving run by Taylor that included two aces put Kean up 16-13 in the third. Later in the same set, Nico Mercadante had back-to-back aces to put Kean up six. Taylor ended the set with a convincing kill as the Cougars took it 25-17.
Naz put up a good fight in the fourth set, and once again the Cougars found themselves tied 24-24 and forced to play some extra volleyball. Barrow set up Kauffman for a kill to get the one-point advantage, and Barrow went back to serve and earned the next point, too, to cap a highly successful Saturday for the Cougars.
Kauffman and Dylan Flor both had 11 kills to lead Kean in the second match. Mercadante finished hitting .364 in the match with six kills. Barrow nearly had 100 kills on the day with another 40 in the Naz match, and led the team with seven blocks as well. Nine different Cougars earned digs in the match, led by Nick Breslin with six.
Kauffman and Warner were named to the event's all-tournament team for their effort this weekend.
The Cougars will head up to the Hall of Fame Classic hosted by Springfield College at the birthplace of volleyball next weekend. Kean will tangle with Springfield on Friday at 8 p.m.