HOBOKEN, N.J. -- No. 3 SUNY New Paltz advanced to its second consecutive NCAA Semifinal on Friday as the Hawks defeated No. 5 Kean 3-1 (25-16, 18-25, 25-18, 25-17) in the quarterfinals of the 2015 NCAA Division III Men’s Volleyball Tournament at Canavan Arena, hosted by Stevens.
With the win, the Hawks improve to 27-5 overall and will take on No. 1 Stevens Saturday at 4 p.m. in the semifinals. The Cougars’ season comes to an end at 31-5 overall.
Despite a slow start, freshman outside hitter Anthony Bonilla found his groove as the match moved on and finished with a contest-best 13 kills on 23 kills (.478) while nearly recording a double-double with nine digs.
Senior setter John Lutjen distributed 21 assists and found the floor with a match-high four aces. Junior outside hitter Andy Fishman just missed a double-double, registering nine kills and nine digs for the Hawks as New Paltz hit .343 for the match (54-18-105), including a .391 clip in the first set and .389 mark in set number three.
New Paltz started the afternoon by winning the opening set, jumping to a 10-6 edge after trailing 5-3 early on. Smith, Husmann and sophomore middle blocker Steven Woessner each tallied kills during the run to hand the Hawks the lead.
After Kean inched to within three (11-8), the Hawks exploded on a 9-3 run to take a commanding 20-11 advantage. The Cougars looked to rally, however, and climbed to within five points (20-15) after three consecutive attacking errors by the Hawks. But New Paltz recovered and used kills by Lutjen and Bonilla to close out the first set 25-16.
The second set was a different story as Kean exposed the New Paltz defense and handed the Hawks a 25-18 defeat. Despite starting with a 5-3 lead, the Hawks slowly started to let the lead slip away as Kean gained a 17-13 lead, which prompted New Paltz to call timeout. Following another timeout trailing 20-14, New Paltz continued to struggle and surrendered an ace and the ultimate set-clinching kill to Kean to fall in set number two.
New Paltz was trailing 3-0 in the third set but recovered nicely and was able to take a 10-9 lead after kills by Husmann, Bonilla and Fishman, which forced Kean to take a timeout. Both teams traded points until the Hawks claimed a 20-16 lead, thanks to a pair of kills by Bonilla. Bonilla enjoyed two more executions down the stretch and Smith finished the set off with a kill of his own to hand the Hawks a 2-1 lead.
With Bonilla serving in the fourth set, the Hawks claimed a 5-1 lead and increased that edge to 7-2 following another Fishman kill. Kean responded and inched to within 8-6 but New Paltz answered with a 6-2 spurt, capped off by an ace from Lutjen to go ahead 14-8.
The Cougars rallied from that moment and clawed to 15-12 but New Paltz remained focused with its eyes set on a return trip to the national semifinals and matchup with host Stevens as the Hawks closed out the quarterfinal contest on a 10-5 run to eliminate Kean.