The NYU men’s volleyball team triumphed over Rutgers University-Newark in a 3-0 match Tuesday night at the Coles Sports Center. This is the Violet’s first win at home this season.
Rutgers University-Newark, now sitting at 13-8, is in their first season at the Division III level since moving down from DI. Junior middle hitter Sean Leahy hinted at the NCAA tournament implications this win could have.
“This game was a pivotal win to stay in the hunt for the NCAA,” Leahy said.
The 10-5 Violets, ranked 10th by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, began the first set with four straight points and successfully secured their one set advantage with a score of 25-17. Leahy and junior opposite Colin LaPorte contributed important blocks, while sophomore outside hitter Chase Klein and junior Nick Benson led with kills.
The second set was a closer set as the two squads went back and forth until they were tied at 7-7. The Scarlet Raiders then jumped out to a 14-8 lead via a 7-1 run. The Violets closed out the set on the comeback trail, outscoring Rutgers-Newark 16-8 to eventually win the set with 25-22.
The final set was the closest of all, as the two teams traded the lead six times and were tied 14 times. Overall, the Violets fought off set point for Rutgers-Newark five times and, trailing 28-27, eventually won the final three points of the match to take it 30-28 as junior middle hitter Phil Bueno capped it off.
“This was the first game where everything kind of came together for us,” Klein said. “We’ve all played well individually and we’ve gotten wins that way, but this was a collective game.”
Benson, the team’s star, had another big night with 13 kills on .269 swinging. By adding nine digs and three service aces, he continued his stellar season since returning to the Violets after being suspended last year.
Sophomore setter Patrick Merrick led all players with 38 assists. He has led the Violets in nearly all their games this season as the setter. Merrick also notched three digs, three total blocks and one kill.
Senior captain Andrew Quirk led all players with 13 digs, and also finished with three assists.
Leahy filled the stat sheet, recording four kills, four blocks, and one dig.
The team won two conference contests at the UVC Crossover event over the weekend, and positioned themselves for a high seed in April’s United Volleyball Conference playoffs. However, Head Coach Jose Pina is not yet satisfied with his team’s performance.
“It’s not only about doing well in the conference,” Pina said. “You also have to play well in the region.”
His team, specifically Quirk and Leahy, stressed the necessity of this win to stay on track after their big weekend.
“It was really exciting, especially because it was a much-needed win,” Quirk said.
The Violets will be away to play SUNY New Paltz on Thursday in New Paltz, New York, at 7 p.m.
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, March 11 print edition. Email Nuomin Huang at [email protected]