MILWAUKEE, Wis. (naccsports.org) --- Top-seeded Milwaukee School of Engineering captured its first Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC) men's volleyball tournament crown with a four-set win over No. 2-seeded Dominican University Saturday in front of a raucous home crowd at Hotchkin Arena.
The Stars (19-11) looked ready to play the spoiler early on, taking the first set by a 25-21 score, but the Raiders (21-7) rebounded to to take the next three sets - 25-19, 25-21, 25-23.
Domincan grabbed control of the first set with six points in an eight-rally stretch to turn a 6-6 tie into a 15-10 lead. MSOE rattled off three straight points to force a Dominican timeout, but the Stars responded with four of the next five to return the margin to five points and force the Raiders to take their second timeout. MSOE responded with three points in a row to cut the DU advantage to just two but back-to-back attack errors gave the Stars some breathing room. The tems traded the next four points to move the score to 23-19 before a Jacob Sirny kill and a block by Austyn Bella and Ben Pung sliced the deficit in half. The Raiders couldn't hold the momentum, however, as kills by Adam Eboli and Jake Sidner closed out the set.
MSOE grabbed an early lead in the second set, using an 10-3 run to turn an 9-7 lead into a 18-10 advantage. Domincan tallied the next four points, leading to a Raider timeout. The hosts then proceeded to match the DU rally with a 4-0 run of their own. Trailing 24-17, the Stars gamely fought off a pair of set points before a Bella kill gave MSOE the set and evened the match.
The third set played out very evenly with Dominican holding a 19-18 lead before MSOE scored three straight points to move back in front and force a Stars timeout. Dominican responded by winning two of the next three points to trail 22-21, but consecutive kills from Pung, Quin Krisik and Serny put MSOE over the top.
Dominican had a spark midway through the fourth set as a service ace from Jack McGuire capped a run of three straight points and forced an MSOE timeout with the Stars leading 12-10. MSOE was able to force Dominican into some mistakes coming out of the timeout, however, responding with three points of their own on a bad set and a pair of attack errors by the Stars. The teams traded points to push the score to 18-18 before back-to-back kills by Jake Christensen and Krisik put MSOE up 20-18. From there, the teams traded points the rest of the way with a kill by Serny at 24-23 providing the match-clinching point.
Sirny (14), Pung (12) and Bella (10) each registered double-digit kills to lead MSOE, with Pung chipping in with 10 digs and three of MSOE's six aces. Krisik - the league's Player of the Year - added 36 assists and 14 digs. As a team, the Raiders hit .203 and had six blocks.
Ethan Klosak and Sidner each had 12 kills to pace Dominican, while Eboli just missed double figures with nine. The quartet of Klosak, Sidner, Eboli and Patrick Bradford (seven kills) accounted for 40 of the Stars' 41 kills as the team hit .162 for the match. Jack McGuire had 40 assists and 12 digs, while Bregin DeMarco posted a team-high 17 digs. Klosak and Sidner also had 10 apiece. Eboli led all players five block assists.
With the victory, the Raiders receive the NACC's automatic berth in the 2019 NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Championship. The full field will be unveiled at 9 a.m. Monday via a selection show at NCAA.com.