Men’s volleyball loses fourth straight conference game

The men’s volleyball team lost 3-0 to Johnson & Wales University, Rhode Island, on Thursday night in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference matchup.

The Lions rank seventh out of eight teams in the GNAC, but only the top six make it to the playoffs. The Lions have not missed the conference playoffs since joining the GNAC in 2009.

JWU held the upper hand throughout the first two sets and won both by double digits. The Lions rallied to take the lead in the third set but ultimately lost 25-22.

Senior outside hitter Mark Piorkowski led the way with 13 kills, and sophomore middle blocker Samuel Willinger added 10.

Despite the loss, Piorkowski said his team’s performance made him proud.

“We worked really hard,” Piorkowski said. “The effort was there, we just need to fine-tune everything.”

Head coach Ben Read said he believes his team showed improvement in many aspects of the game on Thursday.

“We played better this time around than we did last week against the same team,” Read said. “Blocking has improved, serving in certain spots has improved, and we’re getting in better spots on defense.”

This was the Lions’ seventh loss in eight matches despite starting the season by winning seven of their first nine matches. The loss moves the Lions to 2-10 in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference and 10-12 overall. They now place seventh in the conference, ahead of winless Colby-Sawyer College.

Piorkowski does not think the team needs to make significant changes to improve moving forward.

“We just need everyone to focus on their job,” Piorkowski said. “We like our lineup and the effort level is there.”

Read said the team will have success in the future if they plan for other teams more effectively.

“We’re just trying to figure out other teams’ strengths and seeing what we can do to slow them down,” Read said. “Our offense has to know what the open spots are and where the weaker defenders are.”

Read said the Lions could face JWU again in the GNAC playoffs.

“If you hit easy and throw easy, they’re just going to throw the ball down your throat,” Read said. “They’re big, athletic, and they can hit the snot out of the ball. We have to try to match that. We have to be a little more consistent across the board.”

The Lions will face Rivier University on the road at 11 a.m. and Colby-Sawyer College at home at 1 p.m. to close their regular season on April 6.

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