Story written by Brian Magoffin, Springfield College Assistant Athletic Director for Communications. Story posted by Anthony Perry, Rivier University Sports Information Director.
(Springfield, Mass.) The Rivier University men's volleyball team battled their way to a straight-set victory over Arcadia University in the opening round of the 2019 NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Championship on Friday night in Springfield College's Blake Arena. The Raiders won by the scores of 26-24, 29-26, 25-23, and advance to play top-seeded Springfield on Saturday at 6 pm.
Advancing to the national quarterfinals for the first time since 2014, 12th-ranked Rivier improved to 26-7, while 14th-ranked Arcadia's season comes to a close with a 26-11 mark.
Pedro Campos led the Raiders to a .228 hitting percentage as he handed out 37 assists to go along with nine digs, while David Smith led his squad with 12 kills. Francis Kokoros added 10 kills and four blocks, Dashaun Graham turned a match-best five blocks, and Khaynen Yocca delivered seven kills and four blocks in the middle.
Quinn Baily led the Knights with 15 kills and hit .414, Austin Braas had 13 kills while hitting .455, and Dan Paraskevov chipped in five kills. Anthony Devantier handed out 39 assists and added three blocks, while Robie Moctezuma also registered three blocks. Jason Manley came up with a team-high eight digs.
Tied at 8-8 in the first, the Knights used a 5-1 run capped by kills from Baily and Moctezuma to assume a 13-9 lead. The Raiders came back to take a 16-15 lead on the strength of a 7-2 run and the match proved to be tightly contested the rest of the way. Three straight points from the Knights, including a block and a kill from Moctezuma, gave AU a 21-18 lead, but the Raiders answered with five of the next six points to inch ahead 23-22. Jason Manley put down a kill for Arcadi to tie the set at 23-23, but the Knights couldn't pull ahead and an attack error and an overpass kill from Jack Normandin gave the first set to Rivier.
Arcadia was seemingly in control of the second set with a 20-14 cushion before Smith went back to the end line and spearheaded a six-point surge to knot the set at 20-all. Rivier fought off two set points, the last coming at 26-25, before the Raiders scored the final three points of the set, including a pair of kills by Smith, to take the set 28-26 and a 2-0 lead in the match.
Rivier was in control of much of the third set in the early going, racing out to a 14-9 advantage following a Knights miscue, only to have Arcadia answer back and snag a 17-16 edge following an attack error. Rivier later used a 4-1 run to take the lead for good at 22-20 on a kill from Kokoros, but the Raiders sealed the win with a block by Kokoros and Graham. The Raiders totaled 16 kills in the final set, with five coming off the arm of Normandin.
Post-game interview link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwijoblH1fc&feature=youtu.be