UNION, N.J. – The Endicott men's volleyball team battled No. 10 Kean through four sets in their NCAA Division III First Round match up but suffered a 3-1 (25-21, 25-21, 19-25, 25-23) loss to end their 2016 season at 17-11 overall. The Gulls were an automatic qualifier into the national tournament after capturing their fourth consecutive NECC Championship.
Kean (31-6), winners of the Skyline Conference, now advance to face No. 2 Springfield (26-3) in the NCAA Quarterfinals hosted by Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y.
Kean controlled the action in the first set, limiting Endicott to a .156 hitting percentage while sophomore outside Bill Fischer (Berlin, N.J.) went off for five of his team-high 13 kills without an error. The Cougars carried that momentum into the second set with Fischer and senior middle Tommy Rosario (Belleville, N.J.) each striking four kills apiece. Kean owned a lead as large as seven points in the second set but Endicott clawed their way back by cutting the deficit down to three. Four kills apiece from outsides John Osborne (Freehold, N.J.) and Troy Riorden (Fairport, N.Y.) as well as two crucial kills down the stretch from freshman opposite Jeremy Doski (Sandy Hook, Conn.) contributed towards Endicott's bid to shift momentum.
Endicott's strong play continued into the third set with team defense and counter attack factoring into a 25-19 triumph for the Gulls. Freshman libero Ryan Healy (Fair Lawn, N.J.) had five of his team-best 13 digs in that third set, Doski and Osborne each had three digs, while senior middle Alex Wasik (Milford, Mass.) had his hands in three blocks including two solo stuffs at the net. The Gulls would hit .250 as a team in the third set and own their largest lead at 21-11 before holding on for the 25-19 set win.
Endicott and Kean exchanged blows in the fourth set with neither team garnering a lead larger than two points until an 18-17 Cougar advantage quickly became a four-point lead. Sophomore outside Connor Evans (Akron, Ohio) notched two of his five fourth set kills during the three point swing and eventually ended up with 12 for the match. Kean earned match point at 24-19 but Endicott executed one final rally on a pair of blocks by Wasik and senior setter Cameron Little (San Diego, Calif.) and a couple of Cougar miscues to make cut the lead to one point. Kean, however, would end the match and advance on to the next round of the NCAA Tournament by securing a 25-23 fourth set victory.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
- Endicott and Kean met for the fourth time overall and the second time in NCAA postseason play. The Gulls dropped to 0-4 all-time against the Cougars.
- The two teams previous met in the NCAA First Round in 2013 when Endicott hosted Kean and lost in straight sets.
- Little distributed 49 assists in his final collegiate match. It was the second-most assists he had in a four-set match since last week's NECC Championship win when Little had 57.
- Osborne totaled double digit kills (13) and digs (12) for the fifth time this season and the third time in the last four matches.
- Riorden tied his career-high with a match-high 15 kills against Kean. It was the fifth time this season he tied his career-high in kills.
- Wasik finished with three solo blocks and two assisted blocks in his final match wearing the Blue and Green. As a team, Endioctt had three solo blocks and seven block assists.
FOR THE FOES
- Kean is in their sixth year of NCAA Division III eligibility with four NCAA Tournament appearance. This will be their second NCAA Second Round berth with the previous coming in 2013 after defeating Endicott in the opening game.
- Kean's two setters Steve Schrank (Lindenhurst, N.Y.) and Kevin Barrow (Bloomfield, N.J.) amassed 48 assists combined.
- Cougars sophomore libero Nick Breslin (Massapequa, N.Y.) led all players with 15 digs.