Men’s volleyball struggle early in 2022 season

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Photo: Kayla Buck

First-year setter Bayden Slavik scores a kill against Eastern Nazarene College.

By Tyler Foy, Sports Editor

The Emerson men’s volleyball team lost its fifth consecutive game between Jan. 28 and Feb. 8, creating a rocky start to their 2022 season. 

The Lions won their season opener against Nichols College, but the celebrations didn’t last long as the team was swept by fellow Great Northeast Athletic Conference member Emmanuel College one day later. Head Coach Ben Read said the Lions were their own worst enemies in the loss.

“We made too many attack errors, specifically service errors,” Read said. “15 compared to 12 the game before, and we played an extra set. So it started off as errors. That’s kind of been our game; we’ve been making too many mistakes.”

With nearly a week to refocus and practice, Emerson turned their attention to Eastern Nazarene who they would play twice in a three-day span. 

The team planned to work on its ability to run different line-ups and equip players to play different positions. 

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“We’re trying to change up our lineup within our players and play different positions to give him different ways to win,” Read said.

ENC swept Emerson in their first match, but the final score didn’t reflect how close the individual sets were. Sophomore opposite hitter Luke Roehm said the team’s synergy was a positive take away from the loss.

“We communicated really well,” Roehm said. “I think our consistency does come from our communication. I think that every single person on the court needs to be talking at all times.”

The Lions got their rematch two days later on Feb. 5. Roehm said the key to their success is a more offensive style of play.

“We’re just going to be unapologetically aggressive next game,” he said. “We know what to do. There’s nothing to lose…We know they’re a good team and we’re gonna communicate more, keep it loud and we’ll win.”

Emerson’s offensive adjustments made the match more competitive. After losing the first two sets, the Lions extended the game but lost the fifth set. Following ENC, Emerson faced Kean University in the same gym just a half-hour later. They wouldn’t lose a set by more than five points, but would still end up on the losing end 3-1 Kean University. 

Sophomore Neiko Pittman middle/outside led the team with 23 kills between the two games and was also named on the GNAC Honor Roll twice since the start of the season. First-year setter Bayden Slavik had 66 assists over the weekend and was named one of the Lions of the Week for his performance.

The Lions’ most recent game was against tenth-ranked Massachusetts Institute of Technology and ended in a crushing 3-0 defeat. The team’s next matchup is a rematch against Emmanuel College at home on Thursday night.