#13 Rivier Tops Men's Volleyball in GNAC Championship Match

#13 Rivier Tops Men's Volleyball in GNAC Championship Match

BOSTON, Mass. –  In a 2018 Championship rematch, the Rivier University men's volleyball team prevailed over the Wentworth Institute of Technology in straight sets (25-18, 25-23, 28-26) on Saturday evening inside Muldoon Gymnasium.

Wentworth shuts the doors on its 2019 campaign at 19-11, while the now nine-time champion Rivier improves to 25-7 with an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

The Raiders jumped to a 9-2 lead in the first set, using a trio of kills from Khayen Yocca, and doubled up on the Leopards 10-5 despite three straight points from the Leopards – including two solo blocks from sophomore David Marsh (Springfield, Mass.). Rivier grabbed a seven-point lead – its largest of the set – at 21-14, following a Wentworth timeout and a kill from David Smith. The two teams swapped closing points, with Rivier getting to 25 first on a final kill from Smith.

In the second set, Wentworth took charge early, racing to a 3-0 lead with two blocks from Xhuljo Zyba (Holbrook, Mass.). Rivier answered Wentworth's single point with four of their own to tie things up 4-4, but Wentworth rattled off five straight points with freshman Ian Calrson (Parker, Colo.) on the serve, who swung into two aces in the spurt. A kill from junior Ryan Engel (Floral Park, N.Y.) kept the double-up lead, 10-5, as a 5-2 run gave Wentworth its largest lead of the set, 15-8. The host Raiders – ranked at #13 on the national caliber – then staged a valiant comeback and regained the lead on the heels of a 10-2 run. Smith swung into an ace that just stayed in bounds within inches, taking a 19-17 lead. The Leopards pulled within one on a Smith service error, but were handed the set loss with a final 6-2 run.

Down but not out, Wentworth hit .303 in the final set as a 6-2 start forced the host Raiders to burn an early timeout. The Raiders committed two straight errors to give Wentworth an 8-2 advantage, but the comeback Raiders fueled by an electric crowd inside Muldoon went on an 8-2 run, as a Smith kill tied the set 10-10. Wentworth stayed out front as Engel gave the Black & Gold a two-point cushion, and later built a three-point lead 17-14. It didn't take long for Rivier to tie the set up again at 18-18, where both teams answered one another in the closing points, neither able to capitalize on match-point. Smith wound up for the final kill as the Raiders led 27-26, for the 28-26 final.

Love notched a match-high 13 kills, and joined sophomore Peter Klembczyk (Penfield, N.Y.) on the All-Tournament Team. Engel notched nine kills on .375 hitting, while Marsh jumped up for five solo blocks, which ranks third all-time in the Wentworth men's volleyball record books.

Rivier earns an automatic qualifying bid into the NCAA Tournament, and will learn of its First-Round opponent on April 15th.

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