BOSTON, Mass. – No. 15 Emmanuel College dropped a three-set decision to No. 9 Rivier College on Tuesday night in Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) men's volleyball action played in Emmanuel's Jean Yawkey Center. The 3-0 win (25-17, 25-23, 30-28) boosted the Raiders' record to 10-4 overall and River remains unbeaten in GNAC play at 5-0. The loss dropped the Saints to 5-8 on the season and 4-2 in the league. Emmanuel's two conference losses have both come at the hands of the Raiders.
The Saints were never able to mount a strong offensive attack in the opening set and Rivier stormed out to an early lead. The Raiders' attack was backed by strong play from sophomore middle Aaron Almario (Alhambra, Calif.), who finished the night with a match high 18 kills. With the Saints trailing 14-10, junior setter Nick Updike (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) served off an ace. But the visitors would then go on a 3-0 run, forcing an Emmanuel timeout with the Saints trailing 17-11. Emmanuel would get no closer than six points and the Raiders took set one, 25-17.
Emmanuel took an early 2-1 lead in set two off a big swing from senior middle Tom McCaffrey (Massapequa, N.Y.). The lead switched hands several times in the early going, before another Updike ace forged a tie at 8-all. The Raiders regained the lead with strong swings from Almario and freshman outside hitter Chris Markuson (Cupertino, Calif.). The Saints kept set two close throughout, but Riv edged out the two-point win, 25-23. The Raiders slammed down 18 kill in set two, compared to just 12 by the Saints.
Trailing 2-0 heading into the third set, Emmanuel got an offensive spark from its freshman hitting duo of Zach Whitermore (Whitehall, Pa.) and Ashanti Jackson (Sacramento, Calif.). A big swing from the outside by Jackson put the Saints up, 3-2. After holding a four-point lead early in the match, consecutive aces by Updike set the score at 19-16 Emmanuel. Service errors then got the best of the Saints and Rivier knotted the score once again at 23-all. The Raiders got several tremendous defensive efforts from senior defensive specialist Chris Convertito (Trumbull, Conn.), which helped the Raiders rally late in the set and Rivier took a come from behind win in set three, 30-28, sealing the 3-0 sweep.
Almario's 18 kills led the Raiders, as the sophomore hit .394 on the night. Markusons finished with 15 kills for Riv. Junior setter Steve Visentin (Cheshire, Conn.) dished out a match-high 35 assists and collected 6 digs, while senior opposite Andrew Corwin (Framingham, Mass.) led the Rivier defense with 11 digs.
Whitermore and Jackson totaled 10 kills apiece to lead the Saints. McCaffrey hit .409 with 6 kills in 14 swings. Sophomore middle Zachary Caron (Hope, R.I.) chipped in with 5 kills, while Updike finished with 30 assists and 4 aces for the Saints.
Emmanuel will travel to Newton, Mass. on Thursday to take on Lasell College in a 7:00PM start. Rivier will play at Nazareth College on Friday night in a 7:00PM start.