Stevenson men’s volleyball team had lost three of their last four games following an 11-game winning streak. As of Feb. 29, their overall record is 13-5, but the team remains 7-0 in the conference and confident in their performance for the remainder of the season.
Following their three-game sweep against unranked Thiel College, the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) ranked the Mustangs No. 8 in a Feb. 16 poll. The team continued their winning streak against unranked Lancaster Bible College, defeating the Chargers 3-1, winning the first, second and fourth games on Feb. 17. Junior David Santangelo had a career-best 14 kills and 12 digs, while his team had a hitting percentage of .365.
On that same day, the Mustangs also defeated unranked Penn State Altoona in three games. Standout freshman Landon Shorts continued dominate as he led the team with 11 kills, seven digs and three service aces.
Two days later on Feb. 19, the Mustangs had an in-conference match against Cairn University. Stevenson defeated Cairn in three straight sets with a hitting percentage of .322 in a victory that included eight blocks, 34 digs and one service ace.
The following day, the Mustangs played in the Springfield College Invitational where they faced unranked Endicott College and Springfield College. Led by Shorts’ 14 kills, Stevenson defeated Endicott in three straight games.
Shortly after, the Mustangs fell to No. 1 Springfield. Initially the game looked promising for the Mustangs as they opened up strong, winning the first two games 25-22 and 27-25, but unfortunately they were unable to hang on, losing the final three games, 25-19, 25-14 and 15-5.
The Mustangs rebounded from the loss with a three-game sweep against unranked Eastern Mennonite University in a conference game Feb. 24. Senior Patrick Schuyler led the team with 12 kills in a game that featured a hitting percentage of .415, and included 14 blocks, 25 digs and three service aces for the Mustangs.
On Feb. 27, the Mustangs fell to No. 11 Elmira College and unranked Rivier University. The team started off slowly, losing the first two games to Elmira,
25-19 and 26-24; however, things turned around as the Mustangs won the next two games, 25-22 and 25-18, before dropping the tie breaker 15-12. Following the loss, the Mustangs dropped a match against Rivier, 3-2, in a game where the Mustangs had a hitting percentage of .221, with 20 blocks, 33 digs and 6 aces.
According to coach Steve Grossnickle, the biggest challenge this season has been getting the “guys to realize the importance of practice.” However, he says he has seen improvement.
The AVCA has the Mustangs ranked No. 7 in their most recent poll on Feb. 23. Grossnickle believes his team can move up in the rankings if they continue to win in conference, given that the conference is one of the tougher conferences in Division III.
Up next for the Mustangs is Juniata College on Friday, March 4 at 7 p.m. at Owings Mills.