For an NYU men’s volleyball squad that has seen their title hopes start to slip away, a win against a high-ranked opponent was becoming a necessity. Perhaps one quality win could help turn the tide in what has been a tumultuous season. Traveling to Brooklyn to play a “home” game away from their original residence at Coles to face Vassar College on Tuesday, the Violet’s urgency was apparent. Fortunately, the squad finally scored its much needed big win, upsetting ninth-ranked Vassar in three sets.
The Violets drew first blood, but Vassar answered, building a 9-4 lead in the first set that forced NYU to call a timeout. The Violets remained a pesky foe, pulling within three points on three separate occasions. However, Vasser, now 11-3 on the season, was able to close the opening set and gain the advantage by winning the final two points.
But the Violets returned to the court in the second set stronger, rebounding from an early 4-1 deficit to tie things up at six. The teams went back and forth exchanging points until NYU was finally able to build a 12-9 lead. Vassar quickly answered again, taking the lead by two. But after the Violets retook an 18-17 advantage, they were able to fend off Vassar for the rest of the set, winning back some important momentum. A kill by sophomore middle hitter Chase Corbett from junior setter Derrick Chiu knotted the score at one set apiece.
The Violets put together one of their finest sets of the season in the third, overwhelming Vassar en route to a stellar 25-13 victory. Junior outside hitter Chase Klein got the rally started for the Violets, scoring three of NYU’s first six points. The rest of the team quickly followed suit, establishing a 15-3 lead, putting NYU in the driver’s seat. Vassar occasionally put a couple of points together, but nothing that resembled a rally. Led by an array of players including Klein, senior opposite Phil Bueno and senior captain Nick Benson, the Violets finished strong, capping the set to 2-1.
With the pressure of a big win in sight in perhaps the most important match of the season thus far, the Violets battled Vassar in a competitive fourth set, the tightest of the match. Trailing 16-14 near the midway point, an NYU timeout successfully refocused the Violets, who scored the next three points. The contentious back-and-forth exchange continued, but the Violets were once again able to keep Vassar at bay, maintaining a narrow lead the rest of the way. Another kill by Klein put the Violets up 21-19, and an error from Vassar finished the match. Benson credited the team’s defense for the victory.
“That was a big conference win for us,” Benson said. “Vassar is a solid team and we handled them tonight.”
Statistical categories that the Violets have struggled in were suddenly flipped on their heads to be in their favor on Tuesday. The Violets dominated 39-26 in digs and also kept their errors within a manageable range. The team’s shooting percentage greatly improved to .248, noticeably better than Vassar’s .153 clip.
Klein was the team’s high-scorer, racking up 16, while Bueno, Benson and Leahy combined for 36. Chiu remained in his usual role as setter, with 37 assists. The win was an important one, and Bueno believes the season is still early enough to fully recover.
“It was a huge win that gave us favorable positioning in the conference and confidence in our own play going forward,” Bueno said. “We reacted well to runs made by the other team and minimized errors on our side of the net.”
Now 6-6 and once again relevant in the top-15 rankings, the Violets will look keep their hot hand in New Jersey against New Jersey City University on Thursday.
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