Preview: Men’s volleyball aims for upset in quarterfinals

After posting its first overall winning record in the program’s six-year history, Emerson’s men’s volleyball team will play the Wentworth Institute of Technology Leopards on April 7 in the first round of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference playoffs.

The Lions finished their season 13-12, with a 5-9 conference record, which seeded them in the sixth and final playoff spot. The Leopards earned the third seed, going 21-7 overall and 10-4 in the GNAC.

Wentworth swept Emerson both times the schools met earlier this season. The most recent match on March 28 showcased the Leopards’ offensive prowess when they posted a .378 attack percentage over the Lions’ .093.

This is the fifth consecutive tournament for Emerson, which is seeking its first postseason victory since 2013. That year, the Lions won an upset over, coincidentally, the Leopards.

The 2013 Wentworth team was also 10-4 in the GNAC, but this year’s squad is a slightly different beast—it’s currently ranked 15th in the country, making it the only GNAC program to crack the top 15 as of March 31.

If Emerson can pull off an upset, it’ll face Lasell College, which earned a first round bye (22-8, 10-4 in conference), on April 9.

Keys to the matchup

Wentworth’s 16-man roster dwarfs Emerson’s 9-man lineup, so every point will count for the Lions. Emerson outside hitter Jackson Wiley leads the GNAC in kills per set, so a strong performance on Tuesday could be a gamechanger for the squad.

Emerson hasn’t had much of a blocking presence this season, but the team leads the GNAC in digs per set. If they can bring that defensive consistency into their quarterfinal match against the Leopards, who have the second highest attack percentage in the conference, they will be in better shape than the previous two times the teams have met.