BENNINGTON, Vt. – Resilient defense helped the Southern Vermont College men's volleyball team battle back from being down 2-0 to capture a 3-2 win over Elms College Tuesday night in New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) action at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.
SVC took the match with game scores of 20-25, 22-25, 25-23, 25-21, and 15-13.
The win snaps a five-match losing streak for the Mountaineers who move to 6-10 on the season, 3-4 in the NECC. Elms falls to 9-8 and 3-3 in league play with the loss. Tuesday's contest was the third-straight regular season matchup between the two teams that has gone to five sets.
The Mountaineers were led by sophomore middle hitter Joey Dighton (Riverside, Calif.) who recorded 16 kills and only four errors on 31 attack attempts while the Blazers saw freshman outside hitter Jeff Vautrin (Chicopee, Mass.) lead all players with 22 kills; he had five errors on 39 swings for a .436 hitting percentage.
"I give a lot of respect to the Elms offense," said Mountaineer head coach Josh Stokes. "But I also have to give a ton of credit to our defense which hung strong and kept fighting through the night for the win."
Service errors were a problem for both teams as Elms recorded 16 on the night and Southern Vermont totaled 12. A Blazer error from behind the line gave the Mountaineers their first lead in the opening set before the teams traded points through the middle of the frame. SVC led by as many as four (12-8), but Elms fought back to tie it up soon after and eventually took back the lead at 17-16. Late attack errors by Southern Vermont and kills from Blazer senior outside Stephen Cameron (Newington, Conn.) put it away for Elms, 25-20.
The second game was even more tightly contested as Elms took the first point but could not stretch its lead to more than three (16-13). A kill from Mountaineer sophomore Caleb Odom (Redlands, Calif.) tied it at 19-19, but the Blazers responded with a putdown of their own by sophomore hitter Angel Castro (Carolina, Puerto Rico). Dighton went up and put the ball on the Elms side of the court to once again tie it (22-22); however, kills by EC junior Bryson Rainey (Brookline, Mass.) and Vautrin gave the Blazers a 24-22 edge before an SVC hitting error ended it with the 25-22 Elms advantage.
The Mountaineers trailed early in the third set, but Elms errors allowed Southern Vermont to stay in it. SVC finally evened things up, 16-16, after a big kill by freshman middle Alonzo Wright (Chula Vista, Calif.) and then took a two-point lead thereafter. The two teams went back-and-forth, recording 11-straight kills, but the Mountaineers made enough to take the 25-23 set victory. Cameron accounted for three of the six Blazer kills during that stretch.
The fourth set saw much of the same as neither team led by more than two until Southern Vermont scored three unanswered points for the 13-9 advantage. Elms stayed close, closing it to a one-point game a few times, but the Mountaineers kept their edge before finally taking the set 25-21.
The deciding frame saw complete efficiency on both sides as there was only one hitting error committed by the two teams combined. With the set tied 6-6, Vautrin followed up a Cameron kill with one of his own to go ahead 8-6. Elms led 11-8 and seemed to hold all the momentum, but four-straight points capped by a service ace by Wright put the Mountaineers up 12-11. With the tally evened up at 13-13, a big kill by SVC sophomore outside hitter Keven Walley (Pico Rivera, Calif.) gave his team the momentum and the building a deafening electricity that helped Dighton land the final notch on the night for the 15-13 game win.
Mountaineer junior outside hitter Anthony Barahona (Eagle Rock, Calif.) followed Dighton with 11 kills, adding 13 digs, a solo block and a block assist to his night. Walley finished with 10 kills while Odom landed seven to go along with his six digs, three block assists and single solo block on the defensive end. Sophomore setter Herson Canta (Los Angeles, Calif.) had a double-double with 40 assists and 11 digs while also including six kills.
Cameron finished with 16 kills on the night while Rainey accounted for 15, and Castro added another 11. The Blazers had a 73-59 kill advantage over the Mountaineers on the night. They also recorded 83 digs to SVC's 60 as six EC players reached double digits. The team was led by Rainey who had 18 digs as junior setter Daniel Lebron (San Juan, Puerto Rico) followed with 17 of his own; Lebron also notched a match-high 54 assists.
Southern Vermont sets its sights on a non-conference Saturday matchup scheduled at Ramapo College for 3 p.m. while Elms turns to the Endicott March Mania Tournament this weekend with the Blazers' first match at 12 p.m. on Saturday against hosting Endicott College.