UNION, N.J. (3/21/14) – The No. 13 Kean University men's volleyball team topped No. 15 Stevenson University in a four-set thriller at the Kean Invitational on Friday night. For the second-straight match, sophomore Tommy Rosario broke the Kean single-match record for block assists; he finished with 13 on the night.
Kean was in front at the start of the first set, but the Mustangs came back to tie it at 10 on an ace by Jon Martin. But the Cougars went to Bez Arslani – who finished with a team-high 16 kills- who gave them the lead back for good with a kill.
Kean had four blocks in the first 12 points of the match, and finished with six in the first set alone. The Cougars went on an 11-0 run with Kyle Farley serving and took the first set 25-14.
In set two, Stevenson took an early lead and never relinquished it. It was about as disparate as two sets get, with the Mustangs taking it 25-18.
The next two sets were classics: Kean relied heavily on its blocking in set three. Rosario (pictured left) was in on four of the Cougars' six rejections in the third and Arslani had an important ace that put Kean up 14-9. Stevenson kept it close, but a big kill by John Cunningham ended the set with the Cougars up 25-23.
The final set was even tighter. It was tied at 6, 9 and 11 before setter Ron Dunn – who finished with 44 assists – had a kill on this point to break the deadlock. Arslani had a monster kill to put Kean up three, but SU stormed back to tie it again at 18.
An assisted block by Cunningham and Farley gave Kean a 20-18 lead, but the Mustangs stubbornly tied it again at 20. The Cougars went back to Cunningham to reach 21 points, but it was again tied at 22 and 23.
A kill by Rosario got Kean to match point, and an emphatic solo block by Arslani ended it as the Cougars won the passionately played matchup of Top-15 teams.
Ed Jedziniak had nine digs to lead the Cougars, while libero Michael Fox had eight. Cunningham hit .400 with 12 kills, while Rosario also swung .400 for the Cougars. Arslani led the team with 20.5 total points. The Kean defense held Stevenson to a .155 hitting percentage in the match.
Kean is now 15-6 on the year and on a 12-match winning streak. Stevenson fell to 14-7.
The Cougars will return to Harwood Arena on Saturday to wrap up the Kean Invitational with two matches against No. 9 Elmira College and York (N.Y.) College beginning at noon.