DIII No. 3 Vassar Opens With Two Wins At Invitational


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POUGHKEEPSIE, NY - The Vassar College men's volleyball team opened its Invitational Tournament play with two consecutive wins and little break in between this evening at the Athletics & Fitness Center. The Brewers, rolling on a seven-game win streak going into the final day of tournament play tomorrow, defeated Philadelphia Biblical University 3-1 and Johnson & Wales University 3-0.

With the sweep, Vassar improved its record to 11-3 and will take on Elms College tomorrow morning at 10:00 am, and then finish Tournament play against No. 7 Nazareth College at 2:00 pm. Philadelphia Biblical drops to 7-7 and plays Elms tonight at 8:00 pm. In tomorrow's schedule, PBU will play Nazareth at noon and Johnson & Wales at 2:00 pm. The Johnson & Wales Wildcats, meanwhile, fall to 4-5 and prior to their match against Philadelphia Biblical will take on Elms at noon.

Vassar 3, Philadelphia Biblical 1
Against Philadelphia Biblical, the Brewers earned a tensely fought win. The match pitted not only two of the top-ranked Division III teams in the country -- Vassar is ranked No. 3 this week, and Philadelphia Biblical currently sits at No. 9 -- but also two of the country's most prolific hitters. Brewer Phil Tully (Huntington Station, NY/Walt Whitman) is ranked ninth nationally in kills per game through February 15, and Crimson Eagle Justin Brubaker (Telford, PA/Souderton) is holding the crown at No. 1. Tully finished with 24 kills to Brubaker's 26, but it was Tully's squad that got the win, 30-18, 22-30, 30-23, 30-27.

The Eagles nearly pushed Vassar to a fifth set; there were 14 ties in the fourth set and the subsequent advantages usually went in favor of the visitors. The Brewers broke open a 9-9 tie early on to take a 10-9 lead, and despite the multitude of deadlocks that followed, would not lead again until the 27-26 mark. Vassar countered Philadelphia Biblical's solid hitting with some dynamic team defense at the net.

The longest point of the entire match came at the 25-26 mark, which seemed like it might never end until Brewers setter John Kessenich (Chicago, IL/Richard Montgomery) blocked yet another Brubaker attacking attempt. The point would prove pivotal for Vassar, as they outscored the Eagles 4-1 to end the match. Kessenich, Tully, and sophomore Evan Federicksen (Menlo Park, CA/Menlo Atherton) were particularly solid at the net during the latter part of the fourth set, effectively holding off some otherwise strong hitting from Brubaker and his teammate Leandro Dueck (Lititz, PA/Lancaster Mennonite).

Brubaker remained tops in kills, with 26, to go along with 18 digs, and Dueck had 14 kills and 17 digs. Eagle setter Drew Dillon (Mount Joy, PA/Hempfield) had 56 assists.

Kessenich dished out 64 assists for Vassar. The senior was named Sports Imports/AVCA Division III National Player of the Week last Tuesday and is ranked sixth nationally in assists per game. He was supported by some strong hitting from his teammates: Tully had 24 kills and 11 digs, while Fredericksen added 19 kills and 12 digs, and seniors Steve Micucci (Millis, MA/Millis) and Greg Maier (Millis, MA/Millis) contributed 16 and 9 kills, respectively. Scott Leserman (Manhattan Beach, CA/Mira Costa) also had a match-high 23 digs.

Vassar 3, Johnson & Wales 0
The evening match against Johnson & Wales proved a less grueling contest for the Brewers, who cruised to a straight-set victory, 30-19, 30-28, 30-18. The Wildcats took control for a significant portion of the second set; they took a 6-5 lead early on and steadily built it into a 19-12 advantage. The Wildcats capitalized on Vassar's .114 team hitting percentage for most of that set, but did not anticipate an 8-0 Brewer run at the 19-12 mark that turned the flow of the game in Vassar's favor, 21-19.

Senior hitter Micucci improved upon his already impressive first-match numbers to finish with a match-high 13 kills on .500 hitting. Micucci's kills in the second set were instrumental in helping Vassar regain the lead. Tully and Fredericksen each provided 8 kills of their own, and Kessenich had 22 assists. And for the second time in three matches, freshman Clifford Quinn (Hamburg, NY/Frontier Central) reset his career-high in assists, this time tallying 19.

For Johnson & Wales, senior Sean Lauro (West Roxbury, MA) recorded a team-high 12 kills, and freshman Robert Slough (Buffalo, NY) added 8. Setter Kory Helgensen (Bensalem, PA) finished with 30 assists.

Article courtesy of Vassar athletics.


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