DIII No. 3 Vassar Defeats No. 12 Newbury, Wins NECVA Title


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Mahway, N.J. - Vassar's men's volleyball team will play for a national championship. On Sunday afternoon, the Brewers used fundamentally sound play, outstanding defense and opportune offense to defeat Newbury College, 3-1 (30-21, 30-26, 27-30, 30-12), to capture the North East Collegiate Volleyball Association (NECVA) Championship.

Seeded No. 1 in the tournament, the Brewers played nearly flawless volleyball in the four games against No. 6 seed Newbury, highlighted by the outstanding play of senior libero Kyle Giunta (Penfield, NY) and the precise passing of junior setter John Kessenich (Chicago, IL) to improve to 25-6 on the season and a perfect 22-0 against NECVA competition.

Kessenich, who had 55 assists in the final and orchestrated an attack that hit .326 for the match, was named the NECVA Tournament MVP. He was joined on the All-Tournament team by Giunta, junior Scott Leserman (Manhattan Beach, CA) and sophomore Phil Tully (Huntington Station, NY).

The NECVA champion earns a bid to the 2008 Molten Division III Men's Invitational Volleyball Championship to be played on April 11-12 at Blake Arena on the Springfield College campus.

In the championship victory, Giunta and Kessenich were stalwarts, setting up a productive attack effort that included 16 kills from Tully (16-2-32), 14 from senior Tom Pawlowski (Haverford, PA) and 13 each from Leserman and junior Steve Micucci (Millis, MA). Micucci was especially effective, hitting .500 for the match (13-4-18). Leserman had a double-double, adding 14 digs to his 13 kill performance.

Giunta's play off Newbury serves ignited the entire Vassar team. He had 30 opportunites in the match, without a single reception error, and his initial pass was perfectly placed each time.

Playing a desperation game after losing the first two, Newbury fought back to win the third game, 30-27. The Nighthawks and Brewers had seven ties during the game, the last coming at 22-22. Newbury built a 27-24 lead and although Vassar got late kills by Tully and Pawlowski, strong blocking down the stretch enabled the victory.

But the Brewers quashed any thought of a comeback from Newbury, which played Vassar to a 3-2 loss on March 18, losing the fifth game 15-12. Vassar jumped out to a commanding fourth game lead and cruised to a 30-12 win.

In the first game, Vassar took advantage of sloppy passing by Newbury and opportune serving from junior Greg Maier (Millis, MA/Millis) to post a 30-21 victory. With Maier and John Kessenich serving, the Brewers went on a 9-0 run to pull away from an evenly played contest in the early going to push ahead 16-9. The Brewers maintained that lead the rest of the way, going ahead 27-19 on a Scott Leserman kill and won two of the last three points on Leserman kills to take the game.

Game two was contested for the first half with the game tied three times, the last coming at 17-17. But from that point, the Brewers kept inching away. Down the stretch the attacking precision of Micucci, Tully, Pawlowski and Kessenich proved too much for Newbury to handle.

Molten Division III Final Four
As the host institution, Springfield, a four-time winner of this event, will receive an automatic berth to the four-team championship. The tournament field will also include a representative from the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) and the North East Collegiate Volleyball Association (NECVA), which will be Vassar. The fourth team will be an at-large selection from either the Midwest or West regions.

Article courtesy of Vassar athletics.

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