Stevenson University’s men’s volleyball team is currently ranked third in the nation with an overall 28-3 record.
The team’s three losses occurred early in the season, which has allowed the Mustangs to compile a 16-game win streak. The Mustangs lost to Arcadia University early in the season at Owings Mills but rallied to beat them in their second meeting on Arcadia’s home court.
The Mustangs are running on a hot streak going into the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) semifinals and hope to find themselves on their way to the finals. Coach Aldis Berzins said that he is confident that the Mustangs “can play with any team in the country and come out on top.”
After the Mustangs’ early losses, the team rallied behind their captains and seniors. Outside hitter Landon Shorts has been strong all season for the Mustangs, breaking the NCAA all-division record for service aces early in the season, which only helped the Mustangs’ remain strong in March and April.
Graduate student and setter Christian Taylor has been a huge contributor to the Mustangs’ success this season. Berzins said that Taylor has been a rock, with experience and skills to help the Mustangs tremendously. Another strong player for the Mustangs has been junior libero Derek Tangorra, whose defensive strengths coupled with Taylor’s setting skills has kept the Mustangs moving up the rankings, from sixth nationally to third.
The Mustangs are a fairly young team with only a handful of juniors and seniors, but the lack of seniority has not been a problem for the team. For a young squad, the roster is very deep.
Berzins said the depth of the team has helped the Mustangs play as well as they have. Each position has depth, so keeping players fresh hasn’t been a problem.
The Stevenson team has pushed Kean University, Stevens Institute of Technology, and Benedictine University down in the national Division III rankings. Ahead of the Mustangs are No. 1 Carthage College and No. 2 Springfield College. Berzins isn’t worried about the teams ahead of the Mustangs and is confident that Stevenson can play with them when the time comes.
The team’s mature leadership and raw chemistry has been a key strength for the Mustangs coupled with depth in the middle and outside hitter positions. The goal for this season has been to win the MAC championship, and then to compete for a national title. Berzins is excited and eager to move into the MAC tournament next week.
However, because of the early season loss to Arcadia, Stevenson will not be hosting the tournament. Although the two teams each won one game, Arcadia scored more points in total to win the host position.
The Mustangs’ last in-season home game is April 6 against Eastern University at 7 p.m. in the Owings Mills gym.