Second-ranked Nazareth wins UVC crown with sweep of No. 6 Stevens
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- No. 2 Nazareth eased into the United Volleyball Conference championship for the third year in a row Sunday as the Golden Flyers swept No. 6 Stevens by scores of 25-19, 25-23, 25-20.
The victory improved the Golden Flyers' overall record to 34-1 and clinched the team a berth in the NCAA tournament. Stevens overall record dropped to 25-9.
Senior EJ Wells-Spicer was named tournament Most Valuable Player after collecting 39 assists and distributing four service aces. Freshman outside hitter Grant Levermore was equally forceful with a match-best 15 kills, three service aces and five digs. Sophomores Luke Lawatsch and Brody Cord each had nine kills.
"This is a great way to go out," Wells-Spicer said. "There was no way I wanted to lose my last match on my home court."
The Golden Flyers were efficient in defeating the Ducks for the second time this season. They amassed 44 kills as a team for a .296 hitting percentage and also served up 14 aces.
Levermore and Cord each had five kills in the first set and Wells-Spicer had 14 assists as the Golden Flyers gradually pulled away. Nazareth led 13-8 in the second set, before Stevens rallied to tie the score three times late in the set. Tied at 23, Nazareth got a kill from Lawatsch for the 24th point and then sealed the set on a Stevens attack error for set point.
Lawatsch added five more kills in the fifth set and Levermore had four. Wells-Spicer posted 11 more assists and three service aces.
Nazareth won the national title two years ago when the tournament was sponsored by Molten. The Golden Flyers competed in the inaugural NCAA tournament in 2012 and lost to Carthage in the first round as Springfield cruised to the title. In winning the UVC title in 2013, Nazareth joins other conference titlists No. 7 Baruch, Endicott, No. 8 Juniata, No. 14 Kean and No. 15 Rivier as automatic qualifiers.