Nazareth College Men’s Volleyball Team, seeded 15th in the North East Collegiate Volleyball Association Tournament, completed its run through the NECVA Tournament by defeating fourth-seeded Philadelphia Biblical in the championship match in three sets 30-22, 30-28, 30-28. As a first-time winner of the NECVA Tournament, Nazareth advances to the Molten Division III Championship April 16-17 at Carthage.
With the victory, Nazareth improves to 19-14 overall. Philadelphia Biblical, ranked fourth nationally, finishes the season with a 23-11 record. The Golden Flyers also become the lowest seed to advance from the NECVA Tournament to the Division III Championship. The other schools to advance to the Division III Championship include Springfield and host Carthage. A fourth team for the tournament will be selected Monday.
really exciting," said Nazareth Coach Cal Wickens. "It was our goal
from the start, but we took a different route to get there. It was a
great team effort; it was a matter of guys playing to their potential."
Junior Hans Schroeder and freshman EJ Wells-Spicer earned first-team all-tournament honors. Schroeder was also named the Most Valuable Player. Junior Ellis Walsh, sophomore Billy Gimello, and freshman Robert Kraft received second-team all-tournament accolades.
Gimello tallied a team-high 16 kills while Schroeder added 12 kills for the Golden Flyers against the Crimson Eagles. Nazareth won the first set by converting its attack attempts as they finished the set with a hitting percentage of .462. The Golden Flyers cooled to a hitting percentage of .276 in the second set and .238 in the third set, but their defense held Philadelphia Biblical to percentages of .205 and .103 in the second and third sets, respectively.
Walsh contributed eight kills, and Kraft added five kills to Nazareth's attack. Gimello and freshmen Dan Mowery and Connor Ecklund each recorded five digs. Siwy helped to solidify the Golden Flyers' defense with five solo blocks. Gimello and Schroeder each added five total blocks, while Kraft finished the match with four total blocks. Kraft, Schroeder, and sophomore Sam Guba each had two service aces. Freshman setter EJ Wells-Spicer set up the majority of the Golden Flyers' offensive attacks with his 39 assists.
Justin Brubaker and Leandro Dueck led Philadelphia Biblical with 20 kills and 16 kills, respectively. Drew Dillon finished with a match-high 46 assists while Jefferson Stauffer had a match-high eight digs. The Crimson Eagles did not record any solo blocks and were only able to record nine assisted blocks as Nazareth efficiently converted its offensive attacks.
Nazareth made its deepest run in the NECVA Tournament last year when the Golden Flyers were seeded second, but lost to Stevens in the championship match. This season's stunning run included wins over second-seeded Baruch (ranked fifth nationally), seventh-seeded Ramapo (ranked 11th nationally), and sixth-seeded MIT (ranked seventh nationally).
"We were very efficient," Wickens said. "We just didn't make a lot of mistakes."