Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
CHICOPEE, Mass. – The Elms College men's volleyball captured a five-set victory over visiting Sage College, 3-2 (25-22, 25-27, 26-24, 21-25, 15-11), in non-conference action at Picknelly Arena Wednesday night. With the win, the Blazers improve to 9-4 overall, while Sage drops to 4-11 on the year.
In the first set, Elms raced to an early 5-1 lead behind three service aces from senior Angel Castro (Carolina, Puerto Rico). Trailing 9-5, the Gators battled back behind a pair of kills from sophomore Ryan Guyton (Lockport, N.Y.) and an ace from sophomore Bailey Cecchi (Agawam, Mass.) trimmed the deficit to 10-9. The Blazers rattled off five straight points to create separation, and a kill from Elms sophomore Daniel Bondarovsky (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) put the Blazers ahead 19-14. The Gators pulled within two points, 20-18, until the Blazers pushed ahead 24-19, and a kill from Castro locked up the 25-22 win.
The second set featured multiple errors from both squads to open the scoring leading to a 7-7 tie. The Blazers grabbed the lead and back-to-back kills from freshman John Dunphy (Farmington, Conn.) and Bondarovsky handed Elms a 13-9 lead. Elms sophomore Gabriel Reis Levy (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) knocked two kills to pace Sage, 16-13, but Gators junior Chris MacArthur (Hillsdale, N.Y.) delivered an ace to cut the Blazers lead to 16-15. Elms extended their lead to 22-17 with a 6-2 run, but Sage answered on Elms errors and kills from Guyton to pull within a point, 23-22. A kill from Bondarovsky put the Blazers a point shy of a set win, but the Gators forced extra points on an ace from junior Anthony Gerace (East Greenbush, N.Y.). The Gators propelled to a 27-25 win behind a pair of kills from Cecchi.
In the third set, the squads traded points and found themselves knotted at 7-7. No more than two points separated the teams with Sage holding an edge until back-to-back kills from Reis Levy and Castro knotted the score at 16-16. The Blazers built a 20-17, which Sage whittled down to a 22-21 advantage on a kill from MacArthur. A kill from Reis Levy put the Blazers a point from the win, but MacArthur answered with a kill to force extra points again. Elms used kills from Bondarovsky and sophomore Blake Fry (Natick, Mass.) to grab the 26-24 win.
The Gators built an early 9-4 lead in the fourth set, capitalizing on six errors by the Blazers, followed by back-to-back kill from Guyton to push the Sage lead to 11-5. Sage maintained their lead a majority of the set, and a pair of kills from Cecchi giving the Gators their largest lead of the set, 20-14. The Blazers rallied with a 6-3 run over the next nine points, pulling with three points, 23-20, until errors and a kill from Guyton send the match to a fifth set.
In the final frame, the Blazers jumped to a 6-4 lead behind a pair of kills from Castro. Back-to-back kills from Bondarovsky extended the Blazers lead to 8-5. The Gators cut the deficit to 9-8, but a 3-1 run by Elms regained a 12-9 lead. A kill from Guyton made it 12-10, but a consecutive errors by Sage, followed by a kill from Bondarovsky locked up the 15-11 win for Elms.
The Blazers were led by Bondarovsky, who matched a career high with 21 kills, along with six digs and five blocks. Reis Levy notched a double-double with 14 kills and a team-high 10 digs, while Castro grabbed a team-high 10 digs with nine kills, five aces and three blocks. Junior Dervin Dimanche (Queens, N.Y.) added seven kills and five blocks, and Dunphy dished out a match-high 43 assists in the win.
Guyton paced the Gators with a team-high 18 kills, paired with nine digs, five aces and three blocks. Cecchi tallied 12 kills with seven digs, while freshman Zachary Karl (Central Square, N.Y.) had nine kills. Sophomore Casey Fitzpatrick (Haverhill, Mass.) totaled 41 assists with nine digs and two aces.
The Blazers will return to action with a New England Collegiate Conference road trip to Regis College for a tri-match on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. Sage travels to College of Mount St. Vincent's for tournament play Saturday and Sunday.