Men’s Volleyball Tallies First NECC Win with 3-1 Home Victory Over Eastern Nazarene

chris jimenez and bryan bernal laugh during a win over eastern nazarene

BENNINGTON, Vt. – The Southern Vermont College men's volleyball team squared off with its newest New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) opponent for the first time ever Saturday afternoon, grabbing a 3-1 win over Eastern Nazarene College at the Mountaineer Athletic Center for the hosts' first league win of the season.

SVC needed extra points in each set to take a 2-0 lead in the match—topping the Lions 28-26 and 29-27 for a strong upper hand. Eastern Nazarene fought back to extend the contest with a solid 25-18 win in the third, but the Mountaineers were able to edge the visitors 25-23 in the fourth frame to take the inaugural meeting between the two programs.

Southern Vermont (3-11, 1-2 NECC) is back at home for its next match when the Mountaineers welcome Endicott College to the MAC on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. first serve. ENC is off until next Saturday, March 11; the Lions will head to Johnson & Wales University for a quad-match slated to start at 11 a.m. when Eastern Nazarene will take on Illinois Institute of Technology before lining up with Dean College (1 p.m.) and the hosting Wildcats (3 p.m.).

Mountaineer junior captain Elmer Olivares (Miami, Fla.) cracked the 20-kill mark for the first time in his career—notching a match-high 23 while adding day-bests of 16 digs and five service aces. SVC freshman Te Hayward (Baltimore, Md.) followed with 11 kills for the hosts as freshman setter Bryan Bernal (Riverside, Calif.) facilitated the offense by assisting on 36 of Southern Vermont's 46 kills; Bernal also tallied six digs and five kills in the win. Junior Yonas Million (Rockville, Md.) and freshman libero Chris Jimenez (Newark, N.J.) added 11 and 12 digs, respectively.

Lion junior Kenny Sorensen (Quincy, Mass.) led the visitors with 15 kills and 11 digs, and he added three service aces to his line. Freshman Derek Fowler (Williamstown, N.J.) was right behind with 14 kills while junior Andrew Shaw (Weymouth, Mass.) registered eight kills and nine digs. Junior setter Matthew Tyree (Lansdale, Pa.) popped up 42 assists and tied the match-high of five service aces in the effort.

Neither side led by more than three in the opening game before SVC ran off four straight, with the help of a Hayward kill, to go in front 12-8. ENC came back with a 6-2 spurt to tie it up—getting two kills from Shaw and another one from both Sorensen and freshman Andre Jayne (Quincy, Mass.).

Hayward landed a kill before Olivares served up an ace for a three-point Southern Vermont edge (19-16), only to see Eastern Nazarene take seven of the next 10 to pull ahead. ENC held set-point twice, but the Mountaineers wouldn't go away and tied it up both times before an Olivares kill and a Lion miscue gave the hosts the early match advantage.

SVC took the first four points of the next frame with Bernal and Hayward each landing a kill, and Sorensen chalked up a pair of his own to help the visitors stay within striking distance. ENC then rallied for four-consecutive points to go on top by two, but Southern Vermont answered with a 6-2 run which included an Olivares kill and a pair of aces from the team.

The Lions regained the lead with another Sorensen kill before SVC went back in front on another two kills by Olivares. Eastern Nazarene came back to tie it at 23-23 on a Tyree ace, and the Lions would then hold set-point three times in an attempt to tie the contest. The Mountaineers evened the score on each occasion and then claimed the last two points as an Olivares ace closed out the frame for the hosts to go up 2-0 on the day.

A kill by Sorensen and two aces from Tyree gave ENC a quick 4-1 edge in the third, but Southern Vermont would stay close and eventually tie it up at 8-8 with a kill by both Hayward and Olivares. An SVC timeout couldn't stop an Eastern Nazarene surge as the Lions rattled off six-straight points with Sorensen and Jayne each putting down a kill while Tyree served up another pair of aces.

ENC would later go ahead 19-11 after a Sorensen ace, and a Shaw kill then made it a 22-12 difference. The Mountaineers were able to make it interesting with five in-a-row late in the frame—Olivares recording a kill and two aces during that stretch to make it 23-18. The Lions would use a timeout to slow the Mountaineer momentum, and a Tyree kill out of the stoppage helped the visitors force a fourth set.

Olivares hit two-straight kills to tie the next game at 3-3, and points went back-and-forth as neither squad could gain any breathing room. A Bernal ace gave the hosts a tight 12-9 edge, and an Olivares kill was then followed by an ENC attacking error for SVC to go in front by four. Eastern Nazarene took to a 7-2 run to take the lead with Sorensen and Fowler each providing two kills during that surge.

Southern Vermont went back on top with three straight, but the visitors won five of the next six for a 22-20 upper hand. The Mountaineers utilized a timeout—a strategy that paid off as they closed out the match with a 5-1 run for the comeback victory; Million notched a kill to tie it at 23-23 before Olivares capped his career day with a final kill.

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