ELMIRA, N.Y. – Playing back-to-back nationally ranked opponents for the first time in team history, the Wells College men's volleyball team posted losses in straight sets to Elmira College and Nazareth College on Sunday. After posting 3-0 losses to Elmira (25-18, 25-22, 25-19) and Nazareth (25-14, 25-17, 25-13), Wells dips to 16-10 overall on the year following the non-conference tilts.
Nazareth is ranked ninth in the nation amongst NCAA Division III men's volleyball programs, according to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Coaches Poll released on Mar. 25, 2014. The Golden Flyers, who fell to Springfield College in the 2013 NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Championship last season, are two spots ahead of No. 11 Elmira College in the same poll. Wells posted a 3-0 loss to Nazareth last season on Mar. 22, 2013 while they were ranked No. 1 in the nation.
In the loss to Elmira, Wells was led by sophomore John Farruggia (Leonardsville, N.Y.) as he posted eight kills and only three errors in 27 total attacks. Sophomore Derek Nipps (Turnersville, N.J.) assisted 18 of his team's 22 total kills while senior libero C.J. Bayly (Waymart, Pa.). Junior Paul Hernon (New Hartford, N.Y.) and freshman Liam Kaylor (Falls Church, Va.) each posted four block assists and, as a team, Wells was held without a solo block for the first time since Feb. 11, 2014 against Cazenovia.
Three straight kills by the Express in the first set against the Soaring Eagles forced a time out by Elmira, who led by a 16-15 margin. The hosts, however, racked up the set's next three points to capture a 19-15 lead that they would not relinquish. Down the stretch, Wells was only able to score three additional points as Elmira posted a 25-18 first set victory.
Tied at 21 aside in the second set, Elmira converted four kills down the stretch to defeat the Express by a 25-22 margin. Tyler Smith had three of his team's five kills during that span. The Express were unable to hold back Elmira in the third set as the Soaring Eagles built upon a 6-4 lead by scoring the tilt's next five points to effectively eliminate any comeback attempt by the Express.
Smith led Elmira with five kills alongside only one error in 10 total chances. Michael Vellutato assisted 26 kills for the Soaring Eagles while two players posted six digs for the hosts. Elmira hammered home seven service aces in the win and posted 42 blocks to oppose only 33 by the Express.
In a neutral site loss to Nazareth in straight sets, Wells was once again led by Farruggia as he posted seven kills on 14 total attacks for the Express. Nipps set up 17 of his team's kills while Bayly registered seven digs defensively to lead the team.
Wells started out the second match of the afternoon on a rough stretch, committing a service error and an attack error to set the tone for the remainder of the match. At their largest deficit, Wells trailed the Golden Flyers by an 18-9 lead. Nazareth went on to take a 25-14 opening set victory after Wells committed more errors than kills to open play.
The Express trailed by only two points at 19-17 in the second set, but the Express were held scoreless for the remainder of the set as the Golden Flyers scored six straight points to collect the middle stanza victory. Wells once again allowed their opponents to a large lead in the third set, trailing by as much as 20-9. The Express were able to close the gap down the stretch, however, eventually losing by a 25-13 spread.
16 players saw action for Nazareth as Coulton Every led all players with six kills on eight total attacks. Cody Nelson assisted 19 kills in only two sets of action, leading the team, while Andre Richardson was the lone player to see action in all three sets for Nazareth. Richardson registered seven of his team's 30 digs defensively.
Wells concludes their regular season on Saturday, Apr. 5 as they face-off against Lancaster Bible College on the road at 12:00 p.m. The match will be the final North Eastern Athletic Conference contest of the year for the Express.