Men’s volleyball earns conference win over Arcadia; Novoa reaches 2,000 career assists

The Mustangs have won four straight, look to extend streak against Randolph Macon College tomorrow at 1 p.m.
Setter Justin Novoa reached 2,000 career assists in just three years as a starter
Setter Justin Novoa reached 2,000 career assists in just three years as a starter
Ava Treakle
Novoa (No. 7) tied a season-high 53 assists Wednesday night (Ava Treakle)

Stevenson men’s volleyball setter Justin Novoa is quite familiar with the game and how the Mustangs’ team chemistry has worked during his time at Stevenson.

He was a leader on the court Wednesday night with 53 assists, tying a season high and pushing him over the milestone of 2,000 career assists. The ‘Stangs (13-6, 3-2 MAC) earned conference win number three on the year against Arcadia, 3-1 (25-22, 21-25, 25-23, 25-23) in a battle for a potential Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) playoff spot.

“He is a brother, he’s a captain, he’s a great friend, I appreciate everything he has done for the program. For me, he’s helped me out when I needed to be helped out, he gives great advice on and off the court and he has led this team and made it what it needs to be,” junior opposite Ryan Thenell said.

As the match got underway it was a well-fought contest as conference matchups often are.

“It was a fun battle, we were going back and forth with them basically every set, it came down to a couple of points towards the end,” first-year head coach Jason Gardner said.

In the first set, Stevenson maintained a lead for most of the set as they fought to get up on Arcadia early.

Junior outside hitter Tim Flanagan tallied 20 kills yet again Wednesday night (Ava Treakle)

Waves of offensive momentum would keep the Knights in the set until late when junior outside hitter Tim Flanagan had a kill shutting the door on Arcadia in the first frame, 25-22.

For the majority of the match, back and forth battles were the name of the game.

Rolling into the second set, Arcadia wanted to prove they were not going away without a fight. Stevenson jumped out to an early 4-2 lead in the set, but Arcadia would tie it in a set that saw ten total ties. Stevenson played a sloppier second set than they had hoped with 5 service errors and 6 attacking errors in the frame.

Arcadia finally broke the tie, pulling away to 16-14 forcing a Stevenson timeout. Despite a Mustang timeout, the Knights never relinquished the lead, building it to 21-16.

Stevenson reversed the momentum and found themselves down 22-21, forcing an Arcadia timeout instead. The Knights were able to adjust and close out the Mustangs taking set two 25-21.

As the third set began, the Mustangs got back to their confident ways during the side change and would start the frame with another early 4-2 lead. With adjustments made, Stevenson stayed ahead, much to the dismay of vocal Arcadia head coach Adam Hamad who received a yellow card infraction in the third.

In classic MAC matchup fashion, the Knights climbed their way back into the set later on tying it at 14 a piece. The back-and-forth continued with kills from Flanagan and Thenell forging the Mustangs ahead, 19-17.

Men’s volleyball has had plenty to celebrate on a current four-game win streak (Ava Treakle)

The Knights still refused to quit with a 4-0 run of their own to regain the lead 21-19 as Stevenson takes a timeout headed into crunch time. Following the timeout, recent MAC players of the week Flanagan and senior middle blocker Aidan O’Brien would end the Knights’ third set comeback with an efficient string of 4 kills.

Stevenson dominates the final set of the match, never allowing Arcadia to tie. Stevenson jumped out to one of their biggest lead of the match at 16-10, and proved to be too much for Arcadia. The Knights’ late effort, cuts it to 21-20, before Stevenson takes a timeout to compose themselves to finish the set.

First-year outside hitter Anthony Pezzino came in clutch with 2 massive kills giving the Mustangs a 23-20 lead. At this point, stellar Stevenson defense stifled the Knights while kills from Pezzino and O’Brien put a bow on the 3-1 sweep.

With the win, the ‘Stangs have won four straight, and look to continue their winning ways on Saturday at 1 p.m. against the Yellowjackets from Randolph Macon College.

“We are going to do the same thing we do for every game,” Flanagan said after the match. “We are going to scout, get back in practice, work on the basics and what we need to do. I know they are going to be wanting to take this one from us. We have got to start hot and take this one.”

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About the Contributors
Ben Johnson, Sports Reporter
Ben is a junior communication studies major from Hanover, Pennsylvania. After college he hopes to pursue a career in journalism. Ben enjoys covering sports and will be serving as the Stevenson basketball beat reporter for the 23'-24' season.
Ava Treakle, Sports Reporter
Ava is a freshman business administration major on a sports management track with a minor in photography. She is from Fredericksburg, Virginia and is a member of the Stevenson women's lacrosse and track teams. In the future Ava wants to become a sports journalist and photographer. She is also our main sports reporter for Stevenson football.
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