Mustangs Outlast Juniata In Five

Mustangs Outlast Juniata In Five

OWINGS MILLS, Md.. –  The Stevenson men's volleyball team took down yet another former Continental Volleyball Conference foe Juniata College on Friday night at Owings Mills Gymnasium by a final of 3-2.  Juniors Landon Shorts, Jason Gardner, and freshman Logan Smiley all posted double-digit kills combining for 43 kills on the night.

Stevenson (13-8), and ended their two-game losing streak by set scores of 29-27, 25-18, 16-25, 23-25, and 15-11.  It also snapped a two-match losing streak to the Eagles.

Shorts led the way with a team-high 18 kills hitting .308, 14 digs, five service aces and one solo block.  Gardner posted 14 kills, 12 digs, and a block assist.  Smiley finished with 11 kills, nine digs, and two block assists.  Senior Alex Klunk and freshman Nate Reynolds each totaled seven kills and a combined six assisted blocks.  The setting duo of junior Jared Chin and freshman Aleks Melbardis racked 51 assists, with Chin dishing out 30.  Sophomore libero Derek Tangorra added 13 digs.    

Juniata (12-12), was paced by a game-high 19 kills and 23 digs from Joe Fick.  Quinn Peterson ended the night with 18 kills, eight digs, and four aces.  Mahlon Bender and David Hibner each picked up eight kills.  Matt Schaeffer handed out a game-high 51 assists.     

The match started out even with the two sides each taking seven points out of the first 14 knotting the score.  Two errors by the Mustangs and a kill by Peterson opened up a 10-7 lead for the visitors.  A kill from Klunk cut it to 10-8, but the Eagles responded by taking the next three helped out by a kill off the arm of Hibner and an ace for Peterson making the score 13-8.  The home team used kills from Shorts and Smiley to go on a 3-1 run trimming the margin to 14-11.  As the teams traded scores over the next couple of points an attack error by Peterson brought the lead down to one at 17-16.  A kill from Shorts deadlocked the score 18-18, on the next point Chin picked up a service ace to give Stevenson their first lead of the set since 3-2 at 19-18.  After an error by Hibner gave the hosts a 20-18 edge, but it was short-lived as Juniata rallied with a 5-1 push to slide back ahead 23-21.  Three consecutive Eagles errors put the Mustangs at set point 24-23, but a kill by Hibner leveled things 24-24.  The frame would then be tied three more times at 25-25, 26-26, and 27-27.  Attack errors by Peterson and Matt Vasinko handed the set to the home side 29-27. 

With the score tied at 8-8 to begin the second a kill by Shorts and a pair of aces from Chin sent Stevenson in front 11-8.  A pair of Mustangs errors and kills by Gardner and Smiley later the lead was still at three 13-10.  The two sides traded the next four points making it 15-12.  Kills from Peterson and Hibner ended a 3-1 run by the guests cutting the deficit to one at 16-15.  Stevenson extended the advantage to six getting kills by Shorts, Gardner, and freshman Aleks Melbardis to grab a 21-15 lead.  A pair of kills by Fick and a solo for Peterson brought the score to 22-18.  That was the closest the Eagles could get the rest of the set as a pair of aces from Shorts capped a 3-0 spurt by the home team to take the frame 25-18.   

To open the third Juniata came out on fire as they stormed out to an 8-1 lead with the aid of three Stevenson errors.  Consecutive kills from Smiley made it 8-3, but a kill by Fick and a Hibner ace opened it back up to 10-3.  Reynolds stymied the run for a second by picking up a kill but kills from Fick, Bender, and Peterson grew the edge out to 14-5.  The Mustangs were kept at an arm's length the rest of the set as an error by Peterson cut it to seven 14-7, a kill from Smiley kept it at the same margin at 17-10, and a kill by Klunk held it at seven 18-11.  Stevenson could never get any closer in the set as an error by Bender made the score 23-16, but two straight kills by Peterson finished the third 25-16. 

The fourth started with kills from Sean Cavanagh and Fick to grab an early 4-1 lead.  Both sides shared the next ten points to keep the margin at three 9-6.  Kills by Shorts and Smiley drew the deficit down to two 11-9.  Juniata responded by causing three Mustangs errors to assist in a 4-1 run to open up a 15-10 lead.  A kill from Shorts pulled the score down to 15-11, but three straight home miscues pushed the advantage out to seven at 18-11.  With the margin still holding at seven 22-15, kills by Smiley and Gardner in addition to two Eagles errors capped a 6-1 home side spurt trimming the lead to 22-19.  A kill from Schaeffer made it 23-19.  Stevenson was determined to make sure the match would not go five sets as kills by Shorts and Gardner brought the score to a draw 23-23.  Unfortunately, for the Mustangs this was going to go the distance as consecutive kills from Fick ended the set 25-23.

Stevenson began the decisive fifth set with Gardner grabbing a kill, and then Shorts went to work posting two kills and an ace to give the hosts a 4-1 edge.  The sides split the next six points and the Mustangs were still ahead by three at 7-4.  Three straight errors by the Eagles opened up the largest lead of the set 10-4.  A kill from Shorts and a Peterson service mistake kept the margin at six 12-6.  Juniata closed the gap to three using a 5-2 run with kills by Peterson and Fick assisting during that stretch to make the score 14-11.  However, the match would come to a close on the next point when Gardner pounded home a feed from Chin to grab the final frame 15-11.     

The Mustangs as a team hit .285 on 61 kills, while Juniata hit .201 and totaled 64 kills.  Stevenson had a slim advantage in the service game with eight aces to six.  Blocks were almost dead even with both teams recording twelve assisted blocks, but the home side had a two to one solo block advantage.

The Mustangs will be right back in action on Saturday, March 17 when they host Misericordia University in Middle Atlantic Conference play at Owings Mills Gymnasium.  First serve against the Cougars is slated for 2pm.