Seniors Lead DIII No. 4 Vassar Past Newbury In Thrilling 5 Game Match


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Poughkeepsie, N.Y. - In a fitting tribute in the final home game of their careers, the Vassar College men's volleyball team both started and ended its 3-2 victory over Newbury College this Saturday, March 29 at Kenyon Hall with kills by two of its three seniors.

Kofi James (Kingston, Jamaica/Campion College) spearheaded the Brewers scoring with a kill for the first point in the first game, and Tom Pawlowski (Havertown, PA/Haverford) sent a beeline down the right sideline for the last point of the fifth game to finally quiet a persistent Newbury squad. The Brewers took the first game 30-28, and then traded games (26-30, 30-22, 26-30) before earning a 15-12 edge in the tiebreaker.

With the win, Vassar improves to 21-6 and will cruise into next weekend's NECVA Championships, hosted by Ramapo College, as the unanimous number one overall seed out of thirty-nine total teams. The Brewers also gave James, Pawlowski and fellow senior Kyle Giunta (Penfield, NY/Penfield) a victory to end the final regular season of their impressive four-year careers.

Newbury will enter the NECVA tournament at 28-9 and are ranked seventh in the NECVA. The NECVA Tournament champion earns an automatic bid to the Molten Division III Men's Invitational Volleyball Championship, to be held at Springfield College.

In Saturday's action, the two team's split the first two games by building early leads and defending them throughout. Despite trailing during the entire second game, Vassar appeared to have regained the momentum in the third game, when it broke open an 8-8 deadlock with a 12-3 run. Up 20-12, Pawlowski delivered one of his 16 total kills to increase the Brewers lead to 21-12 and send the crowd into a frenzy with his characteristic grin and fist-pump. Vassar closed out the game with ease, winning 30-22.

But in the fourth game, the visiting Nighthawks proved that they would not back down, even after Vassar built a commanding 20-12 lead behind a number of kills by sophomore Phil Tully (Huntington Station, NY/Walt Whitman).

Newbury's Bryan McDermand (Montini Catholic HS/Palatine, IL) and Erik Kostanski (Minnechaug Regional HS/Hampden, MA) fired up their team with back-to-back kills and swiftly tied up the game at 25-25. On the ensuing point, Nighthawks Jay Neveu (East Providence HS/Riverside, RI) and Mark Thomas (Minnechaug Regional HS/Wilbraham, MA) combined for a key block to give Newbury the lead, which held for a 30-26 victory and sent the match into a fifth game.

Vassar and Newbury traded points to start the fifth, and another Pawlowski kill gave the Brewers a slim 7-6 lead, which expanded to 10-8 when Tully delivered a bullet of a kill down the middle of the court that actually knocked a Newbury player off of his feet in his attempt to counter the shot. Vassar held onto a slim 5-4 advantage to close out the match from there, with Pawlowski's final kill ending the game at 15-12.

For the Brewers, Tully notched a match-high 27 kills, followed by Pawlowski's 16 and Steve Micucci's (Millis, MA/Millis) 11. Junior John Kessenich (Chicago, IL/Richard Montgomery) contributed 67 assists, 5 blocks and 10 digs, while Scott Leserman (Manhattan Beach, CA/Mira Costa) delivered a team-high 24 service attempts and 12 digs.

McDermand led the Nighthawks with 21 kills and 11 digs, with Kostanski and Thomas both adding 19 kills of their own. Freshman Matthew Talamantes (Viewpoint, HS/Sylmar, CA) matched Kessenich's 67 assists and added a match-high 15 digs.

Article courtesy of Vassar athletics.

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