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Top Seeds Rivier, Wentworth Advance to Saturday's GNAC Men's Volleyball Championship


#2 Wentworth 3, #3 Johnson & Wales 0
BOSTON, Mass. – For the third consecutive season the Wentworth Institute of Technology men's volleyball team will play for the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship. The second-seeded Leopards advanced to the finals with a 3-0 win over third-seeded Johnson & Wales in one conference semifinal Thursday night.

With the win the two-time defending GNAC champions improve to 22-10 and will travel to top-seeded Rivier for the championship match Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. The Raiders rallied to beat Emmanuel, 3-1. Johnson & Wales ends its season with an 18-15 record.

Wentworth held a pair of two-point leads early in the first set, including when a sophomore Ryan Engel (Floral Park, N.Y.) kill made it 5-3. Johnson & Wales scored five of the next six points and took an 8-6 lead when junior Cameron Ponce (San Jose, Calif.) and sophomore Zach Turner (Coventry, R.I.) teamed up on a block. Trailing 12-10, the Leopards scored four straight points and took a 15-12 lead, capped off by a service ace from sophomore Josh Jackson (Massillon, Ohio). The Wildcats closed the gap to 15-14, however, Wentworth responded with eight of the next nine points, including three kills from senior Ollie Oshman (Pennington, N.J), to make it 23-15 and took a 1-0 lead with a 25-16 win. Oshman hit .714 (5-0-7 in the frame to go along with two blocks. As a team the Black & Gold hit .474 and forced Johnson & Wales to hit -.043.

The two teams nearly went point-for-point early in the second set, leading to three ties before Wentworth took an 8-4 lead on a block from Oshman and sophomore Xhuljo Zyba (Holbrook, Mass.) and extended their lead to 14-9 on a Ritter kill. Three straight points, including a kill from freshman Dondre Crump (Chicopee, Mass.) pulled Johnson & Wales within two and forced the Black & Gold to call timeout. Out of the timeout, the Wildcats scored the next two points to even the set at 14-all. The teams battled through three more ties before a kill from sophomore Sanjae Holloway (East Harford, Conn.) and a Wentworthattack error made it 18-16. Four straight Leopard points made it 20-18, forcing the visitors to call timeout, and, out of the timeout, the Black & Gold extended their run to 7-0 after a sophomore Ryan Love (Gaithersburg, Md.) kill. The Leopards took a 2-0 lead with a 25-19 win. Ritter and Love each had six kills in the set while Oshman added two more blocks.

After the teams traded four points to open the third set, Wentworth scored five of the next six points and took a 7-3 lead on a ball handling error. Johnson & Wales used kills from Ponce and Turner to make it 7-5. The Leopards scored three of the next four points and took a 10-6 lead on a kill from Love. The Wildcats got a point back on a service error, however, Wentworthused a 6-1 run and took a 16-8 lead on a kill from Engel. Johnson & Wales responded with six straight points and trimmed the lead to 16-14. A kill from Ritter ended the run and began a three-point spurt which put the hosts ahead, 19-14. The Wildcats used a 6-1 run and tied the set at 20-all on an ace from Crump. A service error gave the Black & Gold a point and serve and extended the lead to 24-20 on a kill from Love. The Leopards completed the sweep with a 25-21 win. Oshman and Engel had four kills apiece in the set.

Ritter finished with 12 kills, hit .476 (12-2-21), had 19 assists, six digs, and two blocks. Love had 10 kills and hit .368 (10-3-19) while Oshman had nine kills and five blocks. Engel also helped the Leopards' .354 attack with a seven-kill performance. Sophomore Augusto Rodriguez-Guerrios (Guaynabo, P.R.) had 19 assists and freshman Peter Klembczyk (Penfield, N.Y.) had nine digs.

Turner had five kills and two blocks for Johnson & Wales while Crump, junior Matt LaVasseur (Salem, N.H.), and sophomore Nick Bitetto (East Northport, N.Y.) each had four kills. Ponce had three kills and 19 assists while junior Alex Seda (San Juan, P.R.) had seven digs.

Courtesy of Wentworth Athletics Communications.

#1 Rivier 3, #4 Emmanuel 1
NASHUA, N.H. – The top-seeded Rivier University Men's Volleyball team clinched a spot in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Tournament Championship game as it defeated visiting Emmanuel College, the tournament's fourth seed, 3-1, inside the friendly confines of the Muldoon Gymnasium. The Raiders are now 25-6 overall on the season while the Saints season ends at 15-16.

Rivier won the match by set scores of 24-26, 25-16, 25-16 and 25-17.

Senior Grant Andler (Chicago, Ill.) led the Raiders with a game-high 16 kills and a .500 hitting percentage to go along with his six total blocks. Junior Dashaun Graham (Highland Falls, N.Y.) added 11 kills and eight total blocks while sophomore David Smith (Clinton, Ohio) chipped in with 10 kills on the night. Senior setter Garrett Bucklin (Jamestown, R.I.) dished out 37 assists and scooped up 16 digs. Sophomore Cam Roth (Coventry, R.I.) was right behind Bucklin with 15 digs along the back line along with hammering down seven kills and recording a block solo.

Emmanuel was paced by junior Erik English (Simi Valley, Calif.), who contributed a team-high 13 kills, 14 digs and two total blocks. Classmate Kevin Orsley (San Jose, Calif.) registered a double-double of 10 kills and 10 digs with freshman Mike Kokoros (Braintree, Mass.) picking up 11 kills. Sophomore Manuel Velez (San Jose, Costa Rica) also played well defensively as he collected 10 digs in the loss.

The #1 Raiders will host #2 Wentworth Institute of Technology for the 2018 GNAC Men's Volleyball Championship on Saturday night. Game time is set for 7pm. This will be a rematch of the epic five-set 2016 GNAC Championship in which Wentworth won in Boston, Mass. You can view the game live on or on one of the conference's four OTT apps. 

Courtesy of Rivier Athletics Communications.

Tuesday, April 10 - First Round
Game 1: #4 Emmanuel 3, #5 Lasell 2 | BOX
Game 2: #3 Johnson & Wales 3, #6 Emerson 0 | BOX

Thursday, April 12 - Semifinals
Game 3: #2 Wentworth 3, #3 Johnson & Wales 0 | BOX
Game 4: #1 Rivier 3, #4 Emmanuel 1 | BOX

Saturday, April 14 - Final
Game 5: #2 Wentworth at #1 Rivier - 7:00 PM

Founded in 1995, the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) is an NCAA Division III association made up of 13 member institutions and over 3,000 student-athletes across the New England region. Each year, the GNAC sponsors and administers 20 championships, while balancing academic integrity, athletic opportunities and community involvement.