Men’s volleyball ranked 6th nationally

Stevenson men's volleyball drop match to Arcadia 3-1 with set scores of (22-25), (25-18), (25-23) and (25-21) on Saturday afternoon at Owings Mills gymnasium.

The Stevenson University men’s volleyball team has maintained a top-15 ranking in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III, and currently holds a record of 15-3 overall.

Sophomore middle hitter Nate Reynolds spikes the ball at Wilkes University’s defenders on Feb. 16. (Photo by Sabina Moran)

The three teams that the Mustangs lost to were highly competitive: University of Charleston is a NCAA Division I team, while Stevens University is currently ranked No. 2 in Division III, and Arcadia University is ranked No. 13.

The Mustangs started the season ranked #11 in Division III and worked their way up to as high as fourth in the division, according to a gomustangsports post-game article. After their loss to Arcadia, the team dropped to No. 7 and currently stands at No. 6 nationally.

Despite the three losses, the Mustangs have beat Benedictine University, currently ranked No. 4, North Central College, at No. 9, and Endicott College, who is ranked No. 10.

The Mustangs play in the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) which had its inaugural season in 2018, according to gomacsports. The loss that the Mustangs faced on Feb. 16 to Arcadia was the first-ever Mustang loss in MAC play, according to the gomustangsports postgame article.

Sophomore middle hitter Nate Reynolds said the team never found their rhythm in their game against Arcadia. “We did not play up to our full potential,” Reynolds added.

The Mustangs’ senior captain and outside hitter, Landon Shorts, has been a standout player for the team since his freshman year. This season Shorts has been named MAC player of the week twice; he received it two weeks in a row, the weeks of Jan. 21 and Jan. 28.

Senior outside hitter Landon Shorts spikes the ball against Arcadia defenders on Feb. 16. (Photo by Sabina Moran)

Last season Shorts was named MAC Player of the Year and has continued to play at that level this season. Coach Aldis Berzins said that Shorts is “the guy that we want to set when the game is on the line.” His experience and skills make him a reliable player for the Mustangs.

Along with being named conference player of the year, Shorts was also one of four Mustang players who earned first team all-conference, according to gomacsports. The other players were Derek Tangorra, Logan Smiley, and Nate Reynolds, the latter of whom was also named Rookie of the Year. One Mustang was named to the second team, outside hitter Jason Gardner.

Shorts, Gardner, and Billy Russo are the three seniors for the Mustangs, and are also the captains. Berzins said they are capable of using their experience to lead the team to its success.

Stevenson was selected first in the MAC preseason poll, receiving 7 first-place votes. The Mustangs are currently ranked second in the conference behind undefeated Arcadia.

The Mustangs’ last game was against in-conference foe Messiah College on Feb. 27. Stevenson won three straight sets after losing the first 27-25.

The Mustangs’ next game is at Owings Mills gymnasium on Friday, March 1 at 5 p.m. against Widener University, a game that was moved from Saturday, March 2. This is one of eight regular-season home games for the Mustangs.

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