BENNINGTON, Vt. — Southern Vermont College fell 3-2 Thursday night to a strong Johnson & Wales University squad, losing in non-conference men's volleyball action at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.
With the win, the Wildcats improve their season record to 12-2 while SVC drops to 7-4 on the year with the tough setback.
Southern Vermont took an early match lead with a 26-24 victory in the opening frame, but JWU came back to take the second by a 25-19 margin to tie the contest. The Mountaineers then hit an even .500 with only one attacking error in the third game for a 25-16 win to take an upper hand, just to have the Wildcats push the match to the decisive fifth set with a 25-23 edge in the fourth. The two sides continued to battle through the final stanza before JWU put it away 15-13 to win its third straight match and stay undefeated against Southern Vermont (5-0).
SVC was led by freshman Stewart Ramirez (Los Angeles, California) who put down 15 kills to go with six digs and four total blocks. Senior Scott Fitzgerald (Queensbury, New York) followed with 14 kills, nine digs and two block assists while classmate and libero Tino Escovedo (Fresno, California) racked up a team-best 15 digs. Seniors Keven Walley (Pico Rivera, California) and Joey Dighton (Riverside, California) each added 12 kills, and classmate Herson Canta (Lagunitas, California) assisted on 52 of the 57 Mountaineer kills.
Junior Ryan Kennedy (West Barnstable, Massachusetts) tallied a match-high 22 kills for the Wildcats while sophomore libero Kyle MacKnight (Northport, New York) popped up a contest-best 17 digs to go with seven kills. Senior Don Dias (Scituate, Rhode Island) added 16 kills, and junior Kyle Eva (Charlestown, Rhode Island) chipped in with 10 kills and six total blocks. Sophomore setter J.J. Bessette (Coventry, Rhode Island) facilitated the JWU offense with 53 assists, adding eight digs to his line.
Both teams were pretty efficient on the night as Johnson & Wales registered a .397 hitting percentage with eight attacking errors on 156 swings, edging SVC's .347 percentage that came from only committing seven hitting errors on 144 total attempts. The best set from either team came in the first when JWU put down 17 kills and only one attacking error on 31 attempts for a .516 hitting percentage.
Southern Vermont returns to New England Collegiate Conference action on Saturday when the Mountaineers host Daniel Webster College for a 1 p.m. league match, and JWU also plays next at 1 p.m. on Saturday as the Wildcats visit Lasell College for a Great Northeast Athletic Conference tilt.