BENNINGTON, Vt. — Southern Vermont College got back to its winning ways Saturday afternoon, closing out a 3-2 victory over Elms College in New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) men's volleyball action at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.
EC took the opening set 25-20 before Southern Vermont stormed back with a 25-11 win in the second frame to tie up the match. The Mountaineers carried their momentum into the third where they took a contest lead with a 25-18 victory, but Elms was able to push the match to the fifth and final set with a 25-21 win in the fourth. SVC controlled the decider from the start and closed it out 15-7 for the day's victory.
Southern Vermont improves to 11-5 overall and 5-1 in NECC action while the Blazers fall to 3-14 on the year, 0-5 against the league.
Three Mountaineers made their way to double digits in the kills column with freshman Stewart Ramirez (Los Angeles, California) tying the match-high of 16; he added 10 digs for the double-double while senior libero Tino Escovedo (Fresno, California) popped up 14 digs to tie the match-best. Senior Herson Canta (Lagunitas, California) facilitated the offense, assisting on 36 of the 53 Mountaineer kills.
SVC senior Scott Fitzgerald (Queensbury, New York) chipped in with 12 kills, committing only two attack errors on 29 attempts for a .345 hitting percentage on the day, while adding eight digs and two service aces to his line. Classmate Joey Dighton (Riverside, California) tallied 11 kills and three block assists, and fellow senior Keven Walley (Pico Rivera, California) registered seven kills and nine digs to go with a season-best nine service aces.
Blazer freshman Daniel Bondarovsky (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) tied Ramirez's 16 kills while adding seven digs and two block assists. Classmate Gabriel Reis Levy (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) matched Escovedo's 14 digs, pitching in with 11 kills for the double-double, while knocking down three solo blocks. Senior captain Kevin Welsh (Wilbraham, Massachusetts) tallied 28 assists to go with eight digs in the effort.
Southern Vermont racked up 53 kills on the day to the Blazers' 34, hitting .174 as a team to edge the .111 put up by Elms. EC out-dug the Mountaineers 50-47 while recording six team blocks to SVC's five.
The hosts jumped out to an early advantage in the first set, going up 6-1 with three kills and a pair of Walley service aces. EC came back, however, with a 9-1 run that sandwiched an SVC timeout; the Blazers took the 12-11 lead with the help of six Southern Vermont errors and consecutive kills from Bondarovsky. Elms would rattle off four more in-a-row as Bondarovsky landed two more attacks, and the teams then traded points through the latter part of the game. Neither side scored two straight until a pair of SVC miscues gave the Blazers a 24-19 lead, and a final service error put EC in front for the match with the 25-20 frame victory.
Another consecutive pair of Walley aces put Southern Vermont up 5-3 to start the second set, but Elms then rallied off four straight to take the upper hand. Down 9-7, Dighton went up and registered a kill to put the ball in the service of Fitzgerald. Locked into a favorable rotation, the Mountaineers ran off the next 13 points, forcing Elms to use a pair of timeouts during that stretch; eight SVC kills were included in that time, five coming from Dighton, as Southern Vermont opened up the game to 21-9. EC was able to tack up two more points, but the deficit was too large to overcome as Canta and Dighton teamed up for an assisted block to finish the 25-11 SVC set win.
Southern Vermont gave Elms five points in the early going of the third as EC took to a 6-2 lead, but SVC came back to tie things at 8-8 with help from two straight Walley kills. The Mountaineers scored seven of the next 11 points to go up 15-12, Fitzgerald providing a pair of kills to put his team in front with a small cushion. Another Walley kill put it to 19-16 before an SVC service error gave the ball back to Elms. The Blazers would not hold service long, however, as the Mountaineers ran off the next four points to go up 23-17. They then closed it out with Ramirez and Fitzgerald putting down back-to-back kills to take the frame 25-18 and go up 2-1 in the match.
The fourth set was a back-and-forth battle as neither side could pull away from the other. Elms held an 8-6 lead, just to have Southern Vermont take four of the next five for a 10-9 host advantage. Then, with SVC clinging to a 16-15 edge, the Blazers scored three straight to go back on top. They added another two straight after their own service error, taking the biggest lead of the set from either team at 20-17. Southern Vermont closed it to 21-20 on a Fitzgerald kill, but Elms was able to end the stanza with a 4-1 run that included two SVC mishaps and two Bondarovsky kills for the 25-21 fourth set win which extended the match.
Elms tallied the first point of the fifth on a Levy kill, but that would be the last time that the Blazers led for the day as SVC took the next six points for a lead it would not relinquish. Three points during that spurt came straight from Walley's service as he continued to give EC problems from behind the line. Another Levy kill cut it to 7-3, only to have Southern Vermont increase its advantage with three straight kills from different Mountaineers. Not to go quietly, Elms went on a quick 3-1 run with help from SVC miscues, but Southern Vermont ended the day by registering the last three points, the final tally coming when Walley and sophomore Elmer Olivares (Miami, Florida) went up together for the block assist.
Southern Vermont has the week off before resuming play next Saturday, March 14, with a 1 p.m. NECC start at Lesley University. Elms next visits Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Thursday, facing off at 6 p.m. against an Engineer squad that was ranked No. 13 in NCAA DIII in last week's AVCA coaches poll.