CHICOPEE, Mass. – Wentworth Institute of Technology's Derek Portugal (Barrington, R.I.) led three Leopards with double-digit kills as Wentworth held off the Blazers for a hard-fought 3-1 (25-20, 25-22, 20-25, 25-21) victory in Saturday afternoon's North East Collegiate Volleyball Association (NECVA) New England Division men's volleyball match at Picknelly Arena. Elms College sophomore outside hitter Stephen Cameron (Newington, Conn.) drilled a match-best 16 kills
With the loss, Elms moves to 10-15 on the season, 8-8 in NECVA action, while Wentworth improves to 18-8 overall, 9-4 in NECVA play.
Trailing 2-0 in the match, Elms scored eight of the first nine points to start the third set, highlighted by a kill each from Cameron and freshman middle hitter Bryson Rainey (Brookline, Mass.), as well as a solo block by junior middle hitter Yonalvy Acosta (Holyoke, Mass.) and an assisted block from Acosta and freshman setter Daniel Lebron (San Juan, Puerto Rico).
Wentworth answered scoring seven of the next eight points to pull to within one at 9-8 before Elms extended its lead back to six at 16-10. The Blazers then held a 24-17 advantage before a kill by Ross Burdett (Needham, Mass.), an assisted block by Tyler Moriarty (Wilbraham, Mass.) and Mike Buonincontra (Shelton, Conn.), and an Elms attacking error shrank the lead to four at 24-20. Elms' junior opposite hitter Michael Kleckner (Bethlehem, Pa.) then floored a kill to give the Blazers a 25-20 victory and force a fourth frame.
In the fourth set, the sides played to nine tie scores and neither team held more than a three-point lead. With the score set at 21-18 in favor of the Leopards, Elms used an attacking error by Wentworth and a kill by Cameron to pull to within one at 21-20. The Leopards' Lowell Jesmer (Rochester, N.Y.) and Portugal blasted kills bookending a kill by Kleckner to set the score at 23-21. From there, a Burdett kill and a misfire by the Blazers allowed Wentworth to seal the set and the match.
Acosta finished with 13 kills and three solo blocks, while Rainey downed nine kills and recorded 11 digs in the losing effort.
Elms' junior libero Michael Martin (Enfield, Conn.) sparked the Blazers defensive effort with 23 digs and helped Elms hold Wentworth to just a .169 hitting percentage as a team.
Cameron added 10 digs in the loss, while Lebron dished out 36 assists.
Jesmer and Dan Mulvey (Halifax, Mass.) tallied 12 kills apiece behind Portugal's team-leading 13 kills, while Burdett downed 10 kills in the winning effort.
Marc Larue (Lincoln, R.I.) led three Leopards with double figure digs – notching 15, while Portugal and Moriarty followed with 13 and 10 respectively.
Portugal added four solo stuffs and an assisted block in the win, which gave head coach Rob Mullowney his 34th career win and in two seasons has become the program's all-time win leader, surpassing Jason Jeffers '97, who recorded 33 wins from 2003-2007.
Elms returns to non-conference action on Tuesday, March 22 when it hosts the University of New Haven for a 7:00 p.m. tilt at Picknelly Arena.
-Release Courtesy of Elms Sports Information-