NEW YORK, N.Y. — No. 13 Baruch defeated Elms 3-0 to win the inaugural NCAA Division III Championship play-in match on Saturday night at the ARC Arena.
The Bearcats (24-16) swept with scores of 25-23, 25-18, 25-19 to advance to next week’s championship rounds to be hosted by Springfield on April 27-29 at Blake Arena. Elms’ season comes to an end this evening with a 20-8 record.
The Bearcats won the highly-competitive opening set by two points (25-23). The two teams were tied at 23, but two attack errors by the Blazers handed the Bearcats the first set victory.
The second set was tightly contested early with a 5-5 tie, but the Bearcats scored nine consecutive points to build a 14-5 lead. That was enough as they finished hitting .360 in the set for the 2-0 advantage with the 25-18 set victory.
Elms battled back strong in the third set by jumping to a 5-1 lead, but the Bearcats rallied to tie the contest at 8-8. The two teams continued to battle and were later tied at 16-16 before the Bearcats notched nine of the last 12 points to clinch the first postseason match victory.
The Bearcats totaled 34 kills hitting .265, while Elms struggled with 30 kills hitting only .102. Both teams committed 11 service errors each, but Baruch dominated with 33 digs to only five by Elms to pull away for the home victory.
Sophomore Nick Smith led the Bearcats with eight kills, while sophomore Steven Coniglio totaled six kills hitting .357. Freshman Danny Olson dished out 29 assists and Gabe Rivera led the effort defensively with a team-high eight digs.
Angel Castro, Bryson Rainey and Carlos Deleon had seven kills each in balanced attack this evening for the Blazers, while Daniel Lebron finished with 29 assists and six digs.