BOSTON, Mass. – The Wentworth Institute of Technology men's volleyball team dropped two Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) matches to the Wildcats of Johnson and Wales University and the Rivier University Raiders on Saturday afternoon inside Tansey Gymnasium. The Leopards drop to 11-8 overall and suffer their first league setbacks of 2019 at 5-2, while Rivier stays atop GNAC standings, earning two wins on the day.
Wentworth took the first set hitting a team-best .353, coming back from a two-point deficit with a 4-0 run to finish the frame with a kill from junior Ryan Love (Gaithersburg, Md.). Both teams battled early on in the second set, until Rivier pulled away for a 5-0 run giving the Raiders a 9-5 lead. Wentworth continued to chip away, capitalizing on multiple service errors from Rivier but it wasn't enough, leaving the Leopards down by ten at set point.
Coming back strong in the third set, the Leopards went on a quick 4-0 run before the Raiders came charging back to tie it up 11-11 following a kill from junior David Smith (Clinton, Ohio). Wentworth quickly came back with a service ace from junior Xhuljo Zyba (Holbrook, Mass.) and a pair of kills from Love to pull back ahead 23-14. Another kill from Smith brought the Raiders back up 17-24 before another kill from Love sealed the set 25-17.
Both teams matched one another point-for-point in the fourth, until Rivier pulled away after a kill from Smith who added two more to force a deciding set. The Raiders executed textbook offense with .500 hitting and a single error on 16 swings, racing to an early 7-3 lead. Wentworth got four points back from a pair of kills from Ryan Engel (Floral Park, N.Y.) and a kill apiece from Love and Zyba, but Rivier finished with four straight points for the match win.
Love led the Leopards with 18 kills and narrowly missed a double-double with nine digs, while Zyba rounded out double-digits on the stat sheet with ten kills. Junior Augusto Rodriguez-Guerrios (San Juan, P.R.) tallied up 43 assists and 11 digs in a solid defensive effort for another double-double this season, while Engel added eight kills, five digs, and two service aces for the Leopards.
Match 3: JWU 3, Wentworth 1 (25-22, 21-25, 25-22, 25-22)
After a rocky start to the first set, the Leopards came fighting back to deadlock the frame 8-8 with a blast from Love. The set continued with both teams going point-for- point until the Leopards took the lead thanks to two monster blocks to shut down the Wildcats' offense. The score remained tight until the set came to an end with a kill by JWU's Sanjae Holloway (East Hartford, Conn.).
Wentworth got one back in the second set, hitting .324 as a team, as Zyba gave the Black & Gold a three-point lead midway through, 16-13. Wentworth lengthened the gap to as many as five points, 19-15, following an ace from Engel, holding onto the lead until match-point. Zyba drove it home for Wentworth with a final kill to tie the match 1-1.
JWU took control early in the third set and kept the Leopards from tying the score until two huge kills from Love gave Wentworth an 8-7 lead. After a 4-0 run for the Wildcats, the Leopards struggled to regain control and JWU took the third set by a narrow three-points after a final swing from Holloway. The Wildcats started strong again in the fourth set and crept up to a 18-15 lead over the Leopards, but a kill apiece from Love and Engel alongside an ace from freshman Drew Hesse erased the deficit for an 18-all tie. JWU first-year Ben Sandt (East Northport, N.Y.) ignited a 3-0 charge for the Wildcats, and held onto the lead despite Wentworth coming within a single point on a Love kill.
Love again paced the Leopards for the second match of the day with 17 kills, followed by 11 kills from Zyba. Rodriguez-Guerrios added 38 assists while Engel and sophomore Peter Klembczyk (Penfield, N.Y.) both contributed 11 digs a piece.
Wentworth hits the road for its next conference matchup on Tuesday for a 7:00 p.m. contest at Regis.
For the latest on Wentworth Athletics, follow the Leopards via social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Fans can also download the Wentworth Leopards "Front Row" mobile app, powered by PrestoSports, on iTunes and the Android Market.