Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
CHICOPEE, Mass. – The Elms College men's volleyball team wrapped up the regular season with a three-set sweep of visiting Newbury College, 3-0 (25-17, 25-20, 25-19), during a New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) contest at Picknelly Arena Saturday afternoon. With the victory, the Blazers improve to 16-9 on the season, and 8-4 in the NECC, while the Nighthawks dip to 4-8 in conference play and 9-15 overall.
Prior to the contest, the Blazers honored their four departing seniors, Aaron Fogle (Queens Village, N.Y.), Qua'Sean Crowe (Stamford, Conn.), Dervin Dimanche (Queens, N.Y.), and Austin DeCosmo (Southwick, Mass.).
In the first set, the Blazers led wire-to-wire during the 25-17, jumping to a 7-0 lead behind a pair of kills from DeCosmo. The Nighthawks closed the gap to 8-4 on a double block from freshmen Matt Sepe (Cranston, R.I.) and Tyler Polite (Hyde Park, Mass.). Newbury used a 7-4 run over the next few minutes to whittle the Elms advantage to 12-11. Elms rebounded with a 6-1 run, featuring strikes from Crowe, DeCosmo and Dimanche to regain an 18-12 lead. Leading 21-15, Elms junior Blake Fry (Natick, Mass.) delivered a pair of strikes, followed by a slam from Crowe to lock up the 1-0 lead.
Play was close in the early stages of the second set, as Elms developed a 6-2 lead, but Newbury pulled even at 7-7 after a trio of attack errors by the Blazers. The Blazers regained control of the scoreboard with six straight points, featuring a pair of blocks from Crowe, to build a 13-7 advantage. The Nighthawks rallied again with a 4-0 run, but Elms stifled the run with two kills and a block from DeCosmo to make it 16-11. After Newbury pulled within three points, 18-15, the Blazers used a kill from Fogle and an ace from Dimanche to push the lead back to 23-18. Crowe notched the final kill of the set again for the Blazers to secure the 25-20 win.
Newbury used a kill from Polite to even the score at 4-4 in the third set. Tied at 7-7, the Nighthawks held a slim edge over the Blazers as errors dominated play over the next couple minutes with Newbury holding a 13-12 lead. Elms capitalized on a four kills from junior Daniel Bondarovsky (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) during a 7-3 run where the Blazers regained a 19-15 lead. Leading 22-15 following Newbury errors, the Blazers wrapped up the 3-0 victory behind a strike from Crowe and two more from Dimanche.
The Blazers delivered a balanced offensive attack in the win, led by DeCosmo, who matched a career-high with 11 kills. Bondarovsky added eight kills off the bench, while Fogle and Crowe tallied five kills apiece. Freshman Audrye Alejandro (Las Piedras, P.R.) snared a game-high 12 digs, and Dunphy totaled a match-high 34 assists with seven digs and four aces in the win.
Polite paced the Nighthawks with a team-high five kills, four digs and two blocks. Junior Joshua Thorne (Oxford, Conn.) added four kills, eight digs and three blocks. Sepe grabbed a team-high 11 digs, and freshman Oscar Chavez (Independence, Ore.) dished out 12 assists.
The Blazers will head to the NECC Championship Tournament as the three-seed and will host sixth-seeded Southern Vermont in the First Round at Picknelly Arena Tuesday night. Game time is TBA. Newbury finishes as the fifth-seed and will travel to fourth-seeded Eastern Nazarene Tuesday night.