NEW PALTZ, N.Y. – No. 1 Nazareth was pushed to the brink of defeat on Saturday, but the visiting Golden Flyers rallied from two sets down against seventh-ranked New Paltz to win a thrilling five-set match. Scores were 17-25, 22-25, 25-21, 28-26, 15-11. The Golden Flyers also defeated sixth-ranked Stevens in a three-set match 25-23, 25-22, 25-19.
The victories, as part of the United Volleyball Conference Crossover hosted by New Paltz, enabled the Golden Flyers to remain uneaten overall at 21-0 and 9-0 in conference matches.
Against New Paltz, senior Robert Kraft produced a match-high 19 kills against just two hitting errors in 30 attempts for a .567 hitting percentage to pace the Golden Flyers. He also had two service aces and five blocks.
Nazareth committed 23 hitting errors overall, but was error-free in the decisive fifth set as the Golden Flyers totaled eight kills in 13 attempts and had three key blocks. Nazareth went up 5-0 behind a pair of service aces and a kill by Kraft. Senior Alex Houghtalen also had a kill and sophomores Nick McDonagh and Luke Lawatsch produced a block to combine for another point.
New Paltz stayed close and drew to within 8-7, but Kraft added two more kills and a block and freshman Grant Levermore delivered the match-clinching kill off the 56th assist of the match from senior setter EJ Wells-Spicer.
Freshman Tim Zyburt combined 15 kills with six digs and five blocks and Levermore added 12 kills. Lawatsch had seven kills and eight blocks.
Nazareth also had to rally to win the fourth set after leading early, then falling behind 19-16. Four consecutive points, including a kill by Levermore, enabled Nazareth to regain the lead at 20-19. The score seesawed until New Paltz went up 26-25, then Kraft came up with a solo block on match point to tie the score. Nazareth then took the set with a New Paltz attack error and a kill from Houghtalen off an assist by Zyburt.
Against Stevens, a balanced offensive attack featured 11 kills and four blocks for Lawatsch, 10 kills and four blocks for Levermore and nine kills and four blocks for Zyburt. Kraft also continued his hitting effeciency with eight kills and no hitting errors in 11 attempts for a .727 success percentage. Wells-Spicer quarterbacked the offensive with 38 assists and six digs.
The first set was tied at 23 before Nazareth prevailed with a kill by Levermore and a combined block by Levermore and Wells-Spicer for the final two points. Set two was similar in that the teams were tied at 22 when Nazareth emerged with the final three points. Back-to-back kills by Lawatsch led to set point, which was attained through a combined block from Lawatsch and Zyburt.
In the third set, Kraft had three kills and three blocks, while Levermore combined three kills with two blocks.