BEVERLY, Mass. — The Southern Vermont College men's volleyball team suffered a tough 3-2 loss Tuesday night, falling at Endicott College in a match between the last two undefeated squads in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC).
SVC took the first two games 25-21 and 25-17, extending the Mountaineers' string of straight league set wins to 14. The hosts would prevail, however, as the Gulls came back with 25-17 and 25-19 victories in the third and fourth, respectively, to push the contest to the fifth and final frame. EC was able to rally for five straight points and carried the lead to the 15-11 win in the deciding set.
Endicott moves to 6-0 in the NECC (7-7 overall) while Southern Vermont falls to 10-5 on the year, 4-1 in league play.
Mountaineer freshman Stewart Ramirez (Los Angeles, California) amassed a match-high 30 kills, recording only five hitting errors on 49 swings for a .510 attack percentage. That kill total equals the high mark set by Anthony Barahona in a five-set match against Endicott on March 4, 2014. He added eight digs while senior Keven Walley (Pico Rivera, California) totaled a team-best 13 digs to go with eight kills. Seniors Herson Canta (Lagunitas, California) and Tino Escovedo (Fresno, California) both added 11 digs, and Canta popped up a match-best 53 assists as the Mountaineers recorded 62 kills to the Gulls' 54. Senior Scott Fitzgerald (Queensbury, New York) chipped in with 12 kills and eight digs to go with three block assists.
Endicott junior John Osborne (Freehold, New Jersey) led his team with 19 kills, adding eight digs and three block assists to his line. Freshman Troy Riorden (Fairpoint, New York) knocked up a match-best 19 digs while senior Kristian Catalan (Sudbury, Massachusetts) provided another 16.
Neither side could pull away from the other through the first half of the opening set until EC miscues allowed SVC to take a 12-8 advantage. Canta and senior Joey Dighton (Riverside, California) notched consecutive kills to make it 15-11, and the Mountaineers led by at least three the rest of the way to the 25-21 game win.
Southern Vermont slowly pulled away from the start of the second, finding itself up 11-6 after kills by Walley and Dighton. Endicott scored the next three to close the gap, but the Mountaineers then stormed to a 12-2 run that included three Ramirez kills and a solo block by the rookie. EC would bounce back to take the next five points, setting the score at 23-16, but SVC then put the set away with another two kills for the 2-0 match advantage.
Pushing to extend the contest, Endicott came out and grabbed a lead it would not relinquish the entire way. An Osborne kill put the Gulls ahead 6-2 before EC ran off four straight points to go up 18-10. Endicott would score another three straight points on its way to the 25-17 win.
Carrying their momentum, the Gulls took to a quick 6-1 lead and would once again never trail through the set. A 4-1 Mountaineer run that saw three Ramirez kills pulled SVC to within three at 19-16, but Endicott scored three of the next four points for a comfortable cushion which the Gulls carried to the 25-19 victory.
Fitzgerald and Ramirez tallied kills on the first two points of the last set to give Southern Vermont an early lead, but EC then went on another 6-1 run to take the upper hand. The Mountaineers wouldn't go without a fight, tying the match at 7-7 on a pair of Ramirez kills that accompanied another by Walley. They would never go ahead, however, as the Gull scored five straight to go up 13-8 and never look back.
SVC is back at home for its next match, a 1 p.m. NECC tilt with Elms College, while Endicott takes to the road for a contest at Daniel Webster College starting at the same time.