Mountaineers Rally Back for Senior Day Victory

BENNINGTON, Vt.- In a hard fought battle, the Southern Vermont College Men's Volleyball team rallied back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Elms College Blazers in New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) action. The two sides played to an exciting atmosphere the entire night that started with the Mountaineers recognizing its seniors and ended with a 3-2 SVC victory by scores of 28-30, 22-25, 25-22, 25-11, and 19-17.

The Mountaineer freshmen duo of Gabriel Franco and Joseph Dighton had 14 and 13 kills respectively. Dighton the NECC Rookie of the week also had two service aces and five block in the victory. Herson Canta set the Mountaineer offense with 39 assists.  Senior, Nick Haggerty had 19 digs in his final home game for Southern Vermont while fellow senior Connor Murray slammed seven kills.

The Blazers had five players in double digits for kills, as Stephen Cameron led the way with 18. Bryson Rainey had 15 kills on 31 attempts to go along with 11 kills from Carlos DeLeon and Angel Castro. Yonalvy Acosta also chipped in with 10 kills for Elms. Daniel Lebron had 44 assists and 12 digs while Castro also picked 12 SVC attacks.

The excitement started right from the first set when the two sides played to extra points with Elms coming away with a 30-28 win. The Mountaineers held a 24-21 advantage before the Blazers took a timeout. After an SVC attack error Cameron and DeLeon each had a kill to tie the game at 24. SVC then had game point at 25, 26, 27, and 28 but each time the Blazers would respond to tie the set. With the set tied at 28 SVC made another attacking error and Rainey finished the set with a kill for a 1-0 Blazer lead.

In the second set both teams played back and forth volleyball again. This time the Mountaineers took a 22-21 lead late in the set. However, it was much of the same story as the Blazers rallied off four straight points, behind kills from DeLeon and Cameron and a service ace from DeLeon to end the set 25-22.

The third set found the match in a similar situation with Southern Vermont holding a 19-18 advantage. The Mountaineers then took all the momentum when Pierre Massena came off the bench for a big block to give SVC a 20-18 lead.

"Pierre was the spark of our victory tonight," said Head Coach Josh Stokes.

Out of a timeout the Blazers looked as if they were going to finish the night with its third come from behind victory when they tied it at 20. However, Southern Vermont got right back to the gas pedal with straight kills from Dighton and Franco along with an attack error from the Blazers. After Elms pulled within two on an SVC attack error, Dighton slammed home another kill for a 24-21 advantage. Castro then made the game 24-22, but a service error from the Blazers gave SVC just the advantage it needed for the comeback.

With momentum on its side the Mountaineers made quick work in the fourth set with a 25-11 victory. SVC jumped out to a quick 7-2 advantage that it would never look back from. Southern Vermont hit an outstanding .400 for the set and held the Blazers to .000 hitting percentage.

Elms took control of the fifth and final set early, with a 9-5 lead. Then Southern Vermont's Keven Walley brought the Mountaineers back into the game with two kills before a service ace from Tino Escovedo made it 9-8 Elms. SVC then tied it at 12 and took the lead at 14-12, after an Elms attack error. Elms battled back though and tied it 14-14. The Mountaineers once again held advantage at 15, 16 and 17 but the Blazers never gave up and tied the score each time. Then Murray and Corey Mills finished the match with back to back kills for a 3-2 SVC win.

The Mountaineers are now 11-15 and 8-4 in NECC play while the Blazers drop to 17-7 and 8-3 in conference action. Southern Vermont will travel to the MIT tournament this weekend for its final four regular season games.