Men’s volleyball starts strong

Stevenson University’s men’s volleyball team currently holds a four-game winning streak after losing two of their three first games. As of Feb. 9, their overall record is 5-2, with a 2-0 record in the conference play.

Photo courtesy of Sabina Moran
Photo by Sabina Moran

The team entered the season ranked fourteenth in the nation, according to the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s Division III Preseason Poll. The Mustangs opened their season at the Kean Winter Classic against Mt. St. Vincent Dolphins on Jan. 14. After defeating the Dolphins in three sets, the Mustangs moved up one seed in the rankings.

Freshman Landon Shorts had nine kills, five service aces, four assists and three digs in the match. Shorts was named the Continental Volleyball Conference (CVC) player of the week Jan. 18.

The tournament continued the following day with the Mustangs facing Hunter College and No. 11 Kean University in back-to-back matches. Despite the two losses, the Mustangs continued to perform. Shorts had 35 kills, and senior Rob Wingert recorded a career-high 40 assists in the two games, according to GoMustangSports.

On Jan. 30, the Mustangs defeated Medaille College and No. 10 Elmira College, each in three sets. Shorts and junior Michael Fehrs totaled nine kills each and combined for 10 digs on the day, while Wingert totaled 33 assists as well as four digs.

Following the two wins, the Mustangs defeated unranked Cairn University in their first conference game on Feb. 5. Freshman Jason Gardner had six kills, three service aces and a block assist in the game where the Mustangs totaled eight blocks, 32 digs and 10 aces with a hitting percentage of .270. Gardner was named CVC player of the week Feb. 8.

The Mustangs routed No. 3-ranked Rutgers-Newark on Feb. 6 in a thrilling match-up, defeating the Raiders in three games, 25-17, 25-19 and 25-22. Gardner and Shorts combined for 24 kills. The Mustangs recorded eight blocks, 23 digs and one service ace with a .345 hitting percentage in the win.

According to Coach Steve Grossnickle, the biggest challenge this season has been a lack of experience, given that the team is composed of nine underclassmen. Even though the team is young, he believes that they have a lot of talent.

Grossnickle is paying special attention to the upcoming game against Juniata College, who he says has become a conference rival; however, he is confident the Mustangs can win if his team “shows up to play.” The Mustangs next home match is March 4 against Juniata at 7 p.m. in the Owings Mills gymnasium.