Men’s volleyball sweeps Fisher, improves to 12-12 overall

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Photo: Jordan Pagkalinawan

The Emerson men’s volleyball team lines up before Thursday’s match-up against the Fisher Falcons.

By Jordan Pagkalinawan, Sports Editor

As the playoffs inch closer, the Emerson men’s volleyball team earned their third straight win on Thursday, beating the Fisher College Falcons 3-0 and improving to a .500 record. 

The Lions entered the non-conference contest against a lowly Falcons team—who stood at 0-12 before Thursday evening’s matchup—with a notable size advantage. The Lions had five players towering over the competition at 6’4” to Fisher’s trio of middle blockers, with a 6’6” junior accompanying two 6’4” seniors up front.

The Emerson offense was ready to run, as they jumped out to a 6-3 lead behind contributions from outside hitters senior Neiko Pittman and junior Luke Roehm. They would go on to score 12 straight points, thanks in part to Pittman’s four kills and back-to-back aces from first-year outside hitter Ben Dorsey. Though Fisher earned a point off a Dorsey error, the Lions continued to pile on the points, ultimately taking the first set in a convincing 25-6 win with a Roehm ace.

The Lions opened the second set in similar fashion to the first: taking a 6-0 lead before Fisher regrouped. Fisher earned consecutive points with a pair of kills, but were unable to fully answer the Lions’ hot start. A spike by sophomore middle blocker Ramsis De Los Santos gave Emerson a 9-4 lead. Roehm’s kill ricocheted the ball up to the balcony, and the Lions led 12-6. A three-peat of aces by sophomore setter Bayden Slavik gave Emerson a 15-6 advantage, forcing the Falcons to call another timeout. The Lions would lead by as many as 13 points, 21-8, before Fisher scored three points off of a spike and two Emerson errors. An emphatic kill by Dorsey ended the second set, as the Lions won 25-11.

The final set was a back-and-forth, as an ace from Fisher tied it at eight. The Falcons committed a service error that gifted Emerson the lead, then the Lions never looked back. An energetic rally ended in a De Los Santos kill, giving Emerson an 11-9 lead while Fisher players protested to no avail. De Los Santos was everywhere on the front lines, as he earned his fourth kill of the game that gave Emerson a 13-9 lead. Senior captain Jerick Lou entered late in the game and began his contributions with a kill and an ace, the latter giving the Lions a 17-10 lead. De Los Santos’s kill and subsequent ace put Emerson up 19-11. Eventually, the Lions earned set point with an ace from Dorsey, and ultimately won off a kill by Lou. They took the third set 25-17, extending both their winning streak and Fisher’s losing one.

Following the victory, Head Coach Ben Read emphasized that the win was a team effort, much of it done without the on-court presence of Pittman, who fell ill after the first set.

“We had a bunch of different people step up at different times,” Read said. “[We] had different people do different roles.”

Read added that Lou gave a particularly strong performance after coming back from injury.

“He stepped up [and] had a really big kill to finish it,” he said. “Tough serving, pretty good passing, and [it was] nice to finish that game with an exclamation point.”

Lou said he had low expectations heading into the game, having just returned from an ankle injury.

“I literally came from the hospital to [Emerson],” he said. “I was just expecting to go on [and] get some reps—it was cool to get the game-winning kill.”

Read also touched on the impact of Slavik, who led the team with 23 assists in the win and has excelled in the category with an average of 6.25 per set heading into Thursday.

“He’s exceptional,” Read said. “Early on, [I] recruited him when he was 16. I was like, ‘This kid looks like a future D-I setter to me.’ But we knew he was interested in film, [so we decided to] keep him on our list, and here we are.”

“He’s done a fantastic job,” Read continued. “He’s got to work on a few things as far as distribution [and] communication on the court, but he’s killing it. Big block, big serve. He sets a great ball.”

The men’s volleyball team began the year 0-6 dealing with numerous injuries and illnesses to players.

“We’ve been plagued by injuries, and I told these guys at the start of the season that this team is capable of finishing above .500 for the first time in a long time,” Read said.

Lou credited the team’s recent success to the contributions from the underclassmen.

“A lot of the young guys are really stepping up,” he said. “Our team is very freshman-sophomore dominated. I think we only have two seniors and Luke, who is a junior … People got hurt and other guys stepped up and filled in for [them].”

Lou said the key in the coming days is for players to continue stepping up.

“This is a really good team,” he added. “People just need to step up and play the way they normally play. [And make] no mistakes, because we’re really good when we don’t make mistakes but we make a lot of mistakes. Everyone’s just got to step up, and we’re really excited for Saturday.”

The Lions fell to Emmanuel 3-1 (25-18, 20-25, 16-25, 26-28) and were swept by Rivier (20-25, 13-25, 19-25). After a regular season record of 12-14, they face Emmanuel on the road in the GNAC quarterfinals on Tuesday at 7:00 pm.