UNION, N.J. (4/22/17) – The Kean University men's volleyball team put a scare into the defending national champions from SUNY New Paltz in a five-set classic in the First Round of the 2017 NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Championship at home on Saturday.
The first set was tied early at 2, 3, 6, 7 and 9. Kean had four aces for its first nine points. But New Paltz scored the next three to earn some breathing room. Kean went into the first technical timeout trailing 15-11.
The Hawks led the opener 24-19 – sextuple set point. Jacob Kauffman served back-to-back aces at that juncture, but Anthony Bonilla earned his team-best fourth kill of the set to end it, 25-21. The Hawks out-hit Kean .571-.059.
The Cougars began the next set hot, winning six of the first nine points and going up 9-5 before New Paltz called timeout.
The Hawks clawed back to tie the set at 14, but Kean went on a 3-0 run aided by a Steven Zarzycki kill and a Dylan Flor ace to force another NP timeout. Once again, New Paltz knotted the score, but the Cougars went on a 3-0 run with Jared Warner serving. The Cougars added to that cushion to take the second set, 25-20.
Kean improved to a .381 hitting mark in the second, and held New Paltz to an even .100 in the second. Zarzycki, a freshman, led all players with five kills in the second set.
New Paltz went ahead 6-1 to start the pivotal third set and was never really threatened. They led 15-9 at the technical break and won 25-19. Steven Woessner had five kills for the Hawks.
The Cougars fell behind again in the fourth, 7-2. Kean rallied to get within one multiple times, and finally caught New Paltz at 17 with Jacob Milnazik serving. The freshman then ripped an ace to give the Cougars the lead.
Warner and Kevin Barrow teamed for a block to tie the game at 19, and Flor got a kill to square things at 20. Trailing 23-21, Flor earned Kean's biggest point of the year with a kill, and a New Paltz error made the score 23-23.
The teams were also tied at 24 and 25. From there, Kauffman slammed a kill through a block and then Milnazik sliced another ace along the sideline to deliver the set four victory. Flor and Kauffman both posted four kills for Kean in the set.
In the deciding fifth set to 15, Kean leaped out to an 8-4 lead at the switch. But New Paltz earned the next four points to even the count, making the entire match come down to a quick set to seven.
Warner earned a kill on the next play, answered by Bradley Schnieder to tie it at nine. Roessler added an ace to put NP up for the first time in the fifth, but his service error tied it again.
Shayron Taylor and Zarzycki block to tie at 11, but NP got the next point again on a kill by Bonilla. The Hawks stretched their lead to 14-12 before Flor found the floor to get Kean back within one, but New Paltz got the final point they needed to earn the victory.
Bonilla finished with a match-high 17 kills. Matthew Grace handed out 45 assists for the Hawks.
The Hawks will advance to the 2017 NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Championship Final Site in Springfield, Massachusetts against Vassar College. The Round of 8 will begin on Friday, April 28.
Kean ends the season with a 26-9 record.