UNION, N.J. (1/16/15) – Senior Bez Arslani posted seven kills in the 15-point fifth and deciding set to lead the No. 6 Kean University men's volleyball team to a riveting 3-2 victory over No. 10 Elmira College on Friday. The Cougars went on to paste Brooklyn College 3-0 in the nightcap.
Match 1 vs. No. 10 Elmira
The first set was tied by the Soaring Eagles at eight after the Cougars led for the opening 15 points of the match. Two Eagle errors sandwiched around a block by Connor Evans and Tommy Rosario built the Kean lead back to three. Then, back-to-back blocks by Rosario and Arslani extended the Kean run to 5-0.
Still, an ace by Mike Ellison brought the Soaring Eagles back to tie the set at 20, and EC took lead on a kill by setter Carlos Faccio. Cougar setter Ron Dunn answered on next play with his own kill to tie and force deuce, and then served an ace to get to set point.
Elmira got that one, and it took a dump in the corner by the freshman Evans to end the first set with a 27-25 Kean victory.
In the second set, it was Elmira that raced out to an early lead, was caught, but ultimately prevailed in extras at 26-24 to knot the match.
With Dunn serving, the Cougars snapped up the first seven points of the pivotal third set. Kean continued to push the pace, and got out ahead 14-4 before Elmira exhausted its timeouts.
Arslani led Kean with three kills in the set, and Kyle Farley and Jacob Kauffman had two blocks in the third. The Kean defense helped knock the Elmira hitting percentage down from .235 in the second to -.192 in the third.
The fourth set was tied at 7, 8, 9, 10, 13 and 14 before the Eagles pulled ahead by two and then three at 19-16. But the Cougars scored four of the next five points – Arslani had two kills and an assist during the run - to knot the set at 20.
Elmira prevailed again in extra time, however, 26-24 to force a fifth. The Eagles ratcheted their attack percentage all the way back up to .344 in the fourth set.
In the fifth, Arslani had two early kills, but EC tied the first-to-15 set at five.
Kean hunkered down and got the next three, and Arslani earned two more kills to move the score to 10-7. Arslani owned the fifth set, with a whopping seven kills in the set to pull the Cougars to victory.
Elmira had 63 kills to Kean's 49 in the match, but the Cougars were able to out-hit the visitors thanks to the 35 errors and 16.5 blocks the Kean defense forced. The final hitting percentages were an even .200 for the Eagles and .333 for Kean.
Dunn (pictured left) dished out 41 assists and Rosario finished with 10 blocks in the match. Arslani and freshman Steve Schrank finished with a team-high nine digs. Erik Griffin paced Elmira with 22 kills.
Match 2 vs. Brooklyn
The Bulldogs were overmatched from the start, and managed to score just a combined
Kean was led by Taylor, Bliss and Kauffman, who all reached double-figures in points. Bliss had 10 digs, Barrow had 18 assists, Kauffman had nine digs and Warner had a pair of blocks.
Kauffman poured in 24-straight service points in the second set; there is no record of a longer streak in NCAA Division III Men's volleyball history, making it a de facto NCAA record.
The Cougars will return to Harwood Arena on Saturday to wrap up the 2015 Kean Winter Classic against Endicott College and Johnson & Wales University beginning at 1 p.m.