Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
BROOKLINE, Mass. – The Elms College men's volleyball team opened their 2016 New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) with a 3-1 (27-25, 25-20, 18-25, 27-25) win over host Newbury College at Pappas Gymnasium Tuesday night. The Blazers improve to 8-2 on the season and 1-0 in conference play, while Newbury drops to 0-1 in the NECC and 2-7 overall.
In the first set, the Nighthawks started strong, gathering a 6-1 lead as the Blazers tallied five errors. Newbury pushed their advantage to 9-2 behind three straight kills from freshman Skyelar Whitehead (Belchertown, Mass.), and sophomores Wade Robidoux (Agawam, Mass.), and Joshua Thorne (Oxford, Conn.). Trailing 19-12, the Blazers battled back, outscoring the Nighthawks, 8-1, behind a pair of kills by sophomore Gabriel Reis Levy (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) to even the score at 20-20. The squads exchanged points, and a kill from junior Dervin Dimanche (Queens, N.Y.) sent the set to extra points knotted at 25-25. Elms captured the set on an attack Newbury errors from Robidoux and senior Stephen Watson (Monterey, Calif.) to collect the 27-25 win.
The teams continued the back-and-forth play to open the second set being all square at 9-9. The Blazers rallied ahead 13-10 with four straight points, including a pair of service aces from freshman John Dunphy (Farmington, Conn.). The Nighthawks trimmed the deficit to 14-13, but Elms remained ahead as Reis Levy pounded consecutive kills. Newbury mounted a comeback with a 6-3 run, featuring three kills from Robidoux, to pull within a point, 21-20. The Blazers stifled the Nighthawks comeback efforts, closing the frame with four points to take the 25-20 victory.
Tied 8-8 in the third set, the Nighthawks looked to gain their first point using an 11-6 run, fueled by two kills from Thorne and junior Khalil Paige (Baltimore, Md.) to build a 19-14 advantage for Newbury. Errors from the Blazers cushioned the Nighthawks lead to 23-16, with kills from sophomore Xavier Rose-Brown (Wilbraham, Mass.) and Paige wrapping up the 25-18 win for Newbury.
Kills from Dimanche, Reis Levy, and sophomore Daniel Bondarovsky (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) formed a 4-2 lead for the Blazers in the fourth set. A kill from Thorne tied things at 5-5, but back-to-back kills from senior Angel Castro (Carolina, Puerto Rico) regained an 8-6 lead for Elms. Newbury took back control with four straight points to pull ahead 10-8. The Blazers remained within a point behind kills from Dimanche, Dunphy, and Castro, but a kill and service ace from Thorne made it 19-15. Sitting one point away from a fourth set win, 24-20, the Nighthawks couldn't put the Blazers away as Newbury errors sandwiched a kill from Castro even the set at 24-24. A kill from Castro made it 25-25, and errors doomed the Nighthawks in the final two points as the Blazers captured the 3-1 victory.
The Blazers will return to action with a non-conference road trip to Emmanuel College (Mass.) Thursday night for an 8:00 p.m. game. Newbury travels to Regis College (Mass.) for an NECC contest Thursday at 7:00 p.m.