BENNINGTON, Vt. — Another upset at the Mountaineer Athletic Center was not in the works Thursday night as Endicott College went in and defeated Southern Vermont College 3-0 in a tightly-contested New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) men's volleyball showdown.
The Gulls took the first two sets 25-17 and 25-20 before needing an extra point to take the match with the 26-24 third-frame victory during SVC's Senior Night.
EC remains undefeated in league play at 11-0 (12-10 overall), locking up the NECC Regular Season Championship and right to host the upcoming Conference postseason tournament with the top seed. SVC falls to 13-6 on the year and 7-2 against the NECC; the only two Conference losses for Southern Vermont on the season have come against the Gulls.
Mountaineer senior Keven Walley (Pico Rivera, California) led his team with 13 kills, adding a side-best 10 digs for his first double-double of the season. Fellow senior Scott Fitzgerald (Queensbury, New York) chipped in with eight kills, five digs and a pair of block assists while freshman Stewart Ramirez (Los Angeles, California) provided nine digs and five kills. Senior setter Herson Canta (Laguintas, California) notched a match-high 36 assists on the night to facilitate the SVC offense, adding two service aces to his line.
Gull junior John Osbourne (Freehold, New Jersey) registered a night-best 17 kills in the win, having only two attack errors on 34 swings for a .441 hitting percentage; he also notched 10 digs for the double-double. Classmate Dan Seaver (Milford, New Hampshire) followed with 12 kills while freshman libero Troy Riorden (Fairport, New York) popped up a match-best 14 digs on the defensive end. Junior setter Cameron Little (San Diego, California) assisted on 32 of the 37 Endicott kills and added six digs to his night's line.
The visitors hit .255 in the match as a team while Southern Vermont was limited to just a .144 attacking percentage. EC out-dug the Mountaineers by a 43-36 margin as SVC edged the Gulls 38-37 in the kills column. Endicott totaled 7.5 team blocks on the night while Southern Vermont had five of its own.
SVC took a quick lead to start the match before Endicott used a pair of Osbourne kills and another from Seaver to go on a 7-1 run for the upper hand. A kill by Southern Vermont senior Joey Dighton (Riverside, California) helped make it just a 16-14 EC advantage mid-way through the opening set, but the Gulls then took to a 6-2 stretch to open things up. The Mountaineers grabbed a few points through the end of the frame, only to see EC score six of the last seven points for the 25-17 set win.
Once again, Southern Vermont took an early 2-0 lead to open the second stanza, but three straight SVC mishaps allowed the Gulls to go up 5-4. That's when the hosts went on a 9-3 run to regain the advantage at 13-8, eight of their points during that stretch coming from Endicott errors. After using a timeout to slow the Mountaineer momentum, EC went on a 10-4 run of its own to go back in front with an 18-17 tally. Consecutive SVC points gave Southern Vermont the 19-18 edge, but the Gulls then scored six unanswered points to make it 24-19. Walley would put down one more kill for Southern Vermont before a service error gave Endicott the 2-0 match advantage.
Both sides continued to battle through the third set as the lead went back-and-forth. Down 7-4, Endicott utilized four kills, two straight from Seaver, to go on top 11-9. Southern Vermont kept the game in reach as neither team led by more than three for the remainder of the game. The Mountaineers were able to finally tie it at 19-19 with two straight points, and a Fitzgerald kill on the ensuing volley put SVC ahead for the first time since leading 7-6. Service traded sides of the court before Endicott saw Seaver land two straight kills during a 3-0 spurt that put the Gulls on top 24-22. Not to go quietly, Southern Vermont used a timeout and came out of the stoppage with consecutive points to tie up the set. Seaver and Osbourne would put it away, however, with straight kills for the 26-24 frame win that closed out the match for the Gulls.
Prior to the match, Southern Vermont recognized and honored its seven senior members of the team for their hard work and dedication to the program throughout their careers; Dighton, Fitzgerald, Walley, Canta, Tino Escovedo (Fresno, California), Anthony Contreras (Norwalk, California), and James Barker (Southborough, Massachusetts) were each presented with their senior gifts before starting the action.
Both teams play their final regular season home matches at 1 p.m. on Saturday, SVC hosting Lesley University while Endicott welcomes Daniel Webster College for the Gulls' final regular season NECC contest.