BOSTON, Mass. – The Wentworth Institute of Technology men's volleyball team defeated Johnson & Wales and Medgar Evers in a Saturday afternoon tri-match inside the Wildcat Center. The Leopards avenged their earlier season loss to JWU in five sets, improving to 7-2 in GNAC play, before sweeping Medgar Evers to cap the afternoon.
MATCH ONE – Wentworth 3, JWU 2 (25-15, 19-25, 22-25, 25-22, 15-10)
Junior Xhuljo Zyba (Holbrook, Mass.) shattered his career-high kills record, and notched a standout performance for the Leopards with 21 kills (.386) and three blocks (1BS, 2BA). The Leopards pounced to a 4-0 advantage with junior Jesse Lefler (Rochester, N.Y.) on the serve, and never surrendered the lead despite JWU pulling within a single point on five separate occasions.
The Wildcats got one right back in the second set, in which they committed just two errors with .500 hitting. A 6-1 run from the Wildcats paced by two aces and a kill from Sonjae Holloway doubled up on the Leopards, 12-6, as the six-point gap stood until match point from Ben Sandt, despite a late 4-1 run from Wentworth.
Again committing just two errors, the Wildcats built a 15-10 lead in the third set on the heels of a 4-1 charge, with balanced offense from Holloway, Sandt, and Josh Pitzer. The Leopards chipped away in the latter part of the set, as a kill from freshman Ian Carlson (Parker, Colo.) and Zyba pulled Wentworth within two, before a swing from junior Ryan Love (Gaithersburg, Md.) notched the one-point deficit, forcing a JWU timeout. Out of the break, two WIT miscues sent both teams into the fourth set, with JWU holding a 2-1 match lead.
While neither team hit spectacularly in the fourth, JWU posted a match-low -0.34, as both teams battled neck-and-neck with neither gaining more than a two-point lead until the closing plays. Leading 23-22, junior Augusto Rodriguez-Guerrios (San Juan, P.R.) laid down a perfect pass to Love who kept the two-point gap, 24-22, before an attack error from Holloway forced a fifth and deciding set, giving Wentworth the 25-22 win.
Wentworth posted its best offensive numbers in the fifth, with eight kills and three errors on 16 swings for .312, while JWU put up just three kills with a trio of errors on 13 attempts. Love paced the Black & Gold in the fifth with three kills while Carlson was close behind with a pair of kills and two aces. JWU burned an early timeout as Rodriguez-Guerrios served WIT to a 4-1 lead, and carried momentum to an 8-4 lead on a kill from Carlson. A swing into the net later brought JWU within three points, 11-8, but a Zyba kill and back-to-back aces from Carlson gave Wentworth match-point at 14-8. After a kill from Sandt and a Wentworth service error, Love sealed the 3-2 match victory with a kill off the hands of Rodriguez-Guerrios.
Joining Zyba in double-digits was junior Ryan Engel (Floral Park, N.Y.) and Love, who posted 14 and 13 kills, respectively. Engel posted a double-double with 11 digs, in what would be his first of two double-doubles on the day, while Love added five digs as well. Sophomore Peter Klembczyk (Penfield, N.Y.) led all players with 13 digs, as Rodriguez-Guerrios posted a match-high 47 assists.
MATCH TWO – Wentworth 3, Medgar Evers 0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-21)
Sophomore Scott Skarzynski (Webster, N.Y.) and freshman Drew Potter (Towson, Md.) led the charge in match two with 11 kills apiece, hitting .643 and .429, respectively. An 8-1 run set Wentworth apart early in the opening frame, thanks to a combined four kills from Potter, Skarzynski, and freshman Connor Adams (Budd Lake, N.J.). Medgar Evers wouldn't surrender quietly, and turned a 6-2 run of their own, to pull within two points, 23-21 after a blast from Nius St. Clair. Potter brought the gap back to three, as a Skarzynski kill erased a WIT service error for the 25-22 set win.
Both teams were evenly matched in the middle set, before Wentworth snapped a 13-13 tie with a 7-1 run. Up 22-17, Wentworth closed the set on three unanswered points, with a kill from Skarzynski, and an assisted block from Skarzynski and Carlson. As was in the second, both teams battled point-for-point in the closer, as Wentworth pushed late in the set with a 5-2 run to cap the match sweep.
Engel rounded out double-digit kills for the Leopards with ten kills and proved to be WIT's most versatile player on the court with his second double-double of the day, adding 12 digs to his line. Adams dished 39 assists, setting a new career-high, which also led all setters on the court.
Wentworth enters the final stages of its home schedule on Tuesday with a 7:00 p.m. tilt against Cal Lutheran, which received 16 votes in the latest National Poll.
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