Bearcats remain winless against Violets at inaugural Spikefest

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The Baruch men’s volleyball team lost their fourth straight match and have yet to win a game in their 2016 campaign. Agata Poniatowski Coming into the first-ever, Baruch-hosted Spikefest event without a win, the Baruch men’s volleyball team dropped its fourth match of the season against the New York University Violets in four sets on Feb. 4.

The highly anticipated match started with the Bearcats drawing first blood, just narrowly edging out the Violets 25-23, but the home team was unable to keep the flow going in the following sets.

The Violets refused to go down quietly and responded with a commanding 7-1 run to open the second round.

Despite a hard-fought effort, Baruch was unable to recover from the early deficit, and the team went on to lose the set 20-25. The third and fourth set proceeded likewise, and Baruch ended up surrendering those rounds as well.

“We came out with a lot of energy and heart, but at the end of the day it was just too inconsistent from a technical and emotional aspect,” head coach Danial Levent said. “We did a poor job of stopping their momentum.”

The Violets dominated the box score with a .243 hitting percentage and 51 total kills to the Bearcats’ .039 hitting percentage and 33 kills. The seniors on the team had a relatively quiet night compared to their usual performances. Scott Standring and Brian Coniglio combined for 31 assists in the match, and captain Brady Ambro struggled attacking the ball, notching just three kills and a -.071 hitting percentage.

On a night where the seniors struggled, the first- and second-year players on the team stepped up and led the scoring. Freshman Thomas Leslein led the Bearcats with seven kills and eight digs on 21 total attacks, but committed seven errors on the night; sophomores Jacob Mareschal Rudin and Samuel Rabidoux, along with freshman Nathaniel Chin, each posted five kills.

“Hopefully they keep progressing. They’re all young so we just want them to learn a lot and get experience,” said Levent. “They do bring a lot of good energy and heart, but they are just lacking the experience right now. So hopefully as the season goes on, they will gain a little more experience and we will peak towards the end of the season.”

In the first set, Baruch trailed early, but kept the game close enough to muster up a 4-1 run to finish and win the set. The Bearcats trailed by as many as five points, but with the energy of the crowd behind them, forced their way back into the game. With Baruch down 22-23, Rabidoux rose up high above the net and delivered a vicious kill to tie the game at 23. Baruch retained possession, and Chin stepped behind the line ready to serve the ball. On the next two plays, the Violets committed back-to-back attack errors, and the first set belonged to the Bearcats.

The Violets wasted no time making their comeback and surged to a 6-1 run in the next set, and Baruch had no choice but to call a timeout. The Violets continued their rampage without skipping a beat following the break and found themselves with an 11-2 advantage. The Bearcats huddled together hoping to find some solution to overcome their largest deficit of the game, and on the next play, the Violets committed a service error, giving Baruch a chance to catch-up. The Bearcats took advantage of the mistake by grinding out six straight points and closed the gap to three points. Both sides traded runs as the set progressed, but a few costly errors hurt Baruch towards the end. The Violets escaped with the win.

In the third set, NYU had another breakout run, erupting for 10 straight points after the score was tied 4-4. Sean Leahy was the server for the Violets during the stretch, and it was not until his service error that the offense stopped scoring. The Bearcats were unable to rally back, letting another crucial set slip away.

Many of the players were worn out after three long sets, and the fourth was even more lopsided. The Violets recorded three service aces and 11 kills, and Baruch never closed in less than six points after trailing 5-11. The Violets ultimately won, 25-12. “We lost the focus and the motivation in the fourth set for sure,” said Levent. “You really try to keep it very simple and basic, and hopefully they respond but today wasn’t the day for that.”

Coming into the match, the Bearcats were coming off of a tough road trip at the Kean Invitational, where the team went 0-3, while the Violets entered the contest on a two-game losing streak—despite a promising 2-0 start to their season.

Overall, the Bearcats’ season has been off to a troubling 0-4 start, but the team is hopeful that it will go back to winning ways. “We’re still working hard. It’s early in the season, and we’re all trying to figure it out. I think there was a little bit of progress in this match,” said Levent.

With their next four games at home, Baruch will look to pick up some steam against Brooklyn College and the College of Staten Island on its first of four CUNYAC multi-match days.

Despite the heartbreaking ending at the Bearcats’ season home opener, the inaugural Spikefest at Baruch was still a success in the eyes of Levent. “You don’t really get to play in front of a large crowd like that often. It was disappointing that we couldn’t put on a good show for them, but I think a lot of people coming to the match did help us in the first and second sets,” he emphasized.

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