(Nashua, N.H.) The Muldoon Gymnasium served as the host site for the 2016 Granite State Challenge, an NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball playdate featuring some of the best programs that the sport has to offer. Rivier University, who are receiving votes in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Pre-Season poll, squared off with #3 ranked New Paltz State University in the day's opening game before closing out the date against cross-town foe Daniel Webster College.
Game One: #3 New Paltz State University 3, Rivier University 1(Final)
In the morning match, the 3rd ranked Hawks of New Paltz State earned the four set victory over the host Raiders of Rivier by scores of 25-18, 25-22, 23-25, 25-16.
Sophomore Grant Andler (Chicago, Ill.) paced the Rivier offense in the team's season opener. Andler hammered down 15 kills while classmate Matt Heckler (Simi Valley, Calif.) recorded a .588 hitting percentage with 11 kills of his own. Junior Tyler Blank (Rochester, N.Y.) notched 42 assists and sophomore Garrett Bucklin ( R.I.) totaled nine digs on the defensive side of the net. Heckler also added four total blocks in the loss.
New Paltz was led by sophomore Anthony Bonilla (New Paltz, N.Y.) as he registered a .667 hitting percentage with 12 kills and 9 digs. Junior Jake Roessler (Massapequa, N.Y.) added 11 kills and classmate Steven Woessner (Massapequa Park, N.Y.) provided help with 10 kills in the win. Senior Christian Smith (Massapequa, N.Y.) directed the Hawk offense with a game high 47 assists and senior Kevin Nardone (Port Washington, N.Y.) chipped in with 9 digs as well.
Game Two: #3 New Paltz State University 3, Mount Ida College 0 (Final)
The Hawks remained red hot as they carried the momentum over and swept Mount Ida College in three straight sets by scores of 25-9, 25-17 and 25-14. New Paltz State finishes the Granite State Challenge with wins over Daniel Webster (1/22), Rivier and the Mustangs to improve to 5-2 overall on the season.
Junior Joe Norman (Bay Shore, N.Y.) was the force behind the powerful offense as he totaled 16 service attempts with three aces, nine kills and three total blocks. Norman finished the contest with an impressive .750 hitting percentage and four digs. Mitchell Kennedy dished out 23 assists in the second consecutive win over a Great Northeast Athletic Conference school.
Mount Ida senior Jimmy Wessel (DeKalb, Ill.) dished out 10 assists and junior Peter Griffenkranz (Deer Park, N.Y.) laced down four kills in the loss. Seniors Dennis Miranda (Havana, Cuba) and James Ames (West Hartford, Conn.) each had four digs to lead the defensive effort.
Game Three: Daniel Webster College 3, Mount Ida College 1 (Final)
Following a four set defeat to #3 New Paltz State last night, the Daniel Webster College Eagles came into today's matches looking to get back into the win column. They were victorious in their first contest as they took a four set victory from Mount Ida by scores of 25-19, 19-25, 27-25 and 25-15.
Senior Ryan Howdeshell (Fairbanks, Ala.) knocked home 10 kills with 12 digs and Darrien Mason smacked down 9 kills in leading Daniel Webster to their second win (2-2 overall). Freshman Nate Makaiwi (Las Vegas, Nev.) directed the offense with 24 assists and freshman Saunoa Afoa (Las Vegas, Nev.) added 10 digs to help the back line.
The Mustangs (0-2 overall) saw Ames and Griffenkranz reach double figures with 12 and 10 kills, respectively, and Wessel register 37 assists as the team began its first day of competition in 2016. Senior Michael McCullough (Southborough, Mass.) was the defensive star with 12 digs in the contest.
Game Four: Rivier University 3, Daniel Webster College 0 (Final)
In the final match of the 2016 Granite State Challenge, the Rivier University Men's Volleyball team evened up their overall record at 1-1 with a three set win over cross-town foe, Daniel Webster College. The Raiders took the game by scores of 25-16, 25-20 and 25-23.
Junior Ian Wolski (Westfield, Mass.) recorded eight kills in two sets with Heckler adding five on his .667 hitting percentage to lead the Raiders to win #1 on the season. Heckler also finished with five total blocks. Junior Matt LaSance (Madison, Conn.) stepped up and provided 21 assists in the contest while senior Mike Hovnanian (Methuen, Mass.) collected 11 digs along the back line.
Afoa was the kill leader for the Eagles as he totaled eight on 19 attempts. Howdeshell added six kills and Mason chipped in with four. Makaiwi once again paced the flow of the offense with 20 assists. Junior Tommy Reyes (Providence, R.I.) had seven digs in the loss.