BENNINGTON, Vt. — History was made Saturday afternoon at the Mountaineer Athletic Center as the Southern Vermont College men's volleyball team defeated Lesley University 3-0 in New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) action to surpass the program's single season wins record.
Southern Vermont took the match with set scores of 25-17, 25-14, and 25-19.
SVC is now 14-6 overall and 8-2 in league play; Saturday's win secures the second seed for the Mountaineers in the upcoming NECC postseason tournament to be played April 10-11 at top-seeded Endicott College. Lesley falls to 1-17 on the year and 0-9 against the Conference with Saturday's defeat.
Southern Vermont senior Joey Dighton (Riverside, California) landed a contest-best 12 kills in his last match on his home court, recording just one hitting error on 18 swings for a .611 attack percentage. Classmate and libero Tino Escovedo (Fresno, California) was all over the floor to pop up a season-high 17 digs which was also a match-high on Saturday. Senior setter Herson Canta (Lagunitas, California) tallied 32 assists to go with three timely kills while fellow senior Scott Fitzgerald (Queensbury, New York) registered five kills, four digs, and three service aces. SVC totaled 10 aces on the day, five coming from senior Keven Walley (Pico Rivera, California).
The Lynx were led offensively by sophomore Tyler Burns (Newtown, Pennsylvania) who notched seven kills to go with a team-best 10 digs and a pair of block assists. Junior Jess Cherry (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) added five kills and three digs while sophomore setter Mitchell Ulacco (Winchester, Massachusetts) assisted all 15 of the Lesley kills and provided seven digs defensively.
The Mountaineers hit .306 as a team while notching 40 kills in the win. SVC held a 33-28 dig advantage as Lesley had four team blocks to Southern Vermont's three. Setting was under a microscope on both sides of the net, the two teams being called for a combined 11 ball handling errors on the day.
A couple of SVC mishaps gave Lesley a 3-2 lead in the early going of the first set, but Walley then ripped across three straight service aces during a 4-0 Mountaineer run that put the hosts ahead for good. Southern Vermont would go on a 7-1 stretch soon-after behind three more aces, two straight coming off the hand of freshman Stewart Ramirez (Los Angeles, California), for a comfortable cushion. SVC would maintain its separation through the frame before a Dighton kill put the set away for the Mountaineers at 25-17.
The first half of the second game was tight as neither team led by more than three until a 4-1 Mountaineer run put the hosts on top 12-8. Lesley grabbed a pair with help from an SVC setting miscue, but Southern Vermont then rallied to score eight of the next 10 points to go up 20-12; that spurt saw kills from three Mountaineers and a pair of team blocks from SVC. Southern Vermont ended the set on a 5-1 run, senior Anthony Contreras (Norwalk, California) recording the final kill for the Mountaineers to take the 2-0 match advantage.
Ulacco served for three consecutive points to open the third stanza, and LU then tallied three more unanswered points with kills from Burns and Cherry to go up 6-2. The Lynx stayed on top through the opening half of the set, going up 13-11 after an SVC service error. The lead would not stand for long, however, as Southern Vermont picked up momentum to go on a 9-1 run powered by four kills, two straight coming from Dighton. The Mountaineers ripped off another four straight to go up 24-15 and force a Lesley timeout. The Lynx pushed to extend the match with four consecutive points, but Dighton went up and slammed home the match winner off a Canta set as SVC celebrated breaking its team wins total for the second straight season.
Southern Vermont is next at Elms College on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. NECC matchup while Lesley travels to Regis College on Monday for a 6 p.m. start.