The Wells College men's volleyball team saw its historic 2019 season come to an end in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament with a five-set loss at third-ranked Stevens Institute of Technology on Saturday, April 20. Set scores were 23-25, 25-21, 16-25, 25-20, 15-12.
Wells finished its season with a 28-9 record, the most wins and highest winning percentage in a single season in the program's eight-year history. They are the first team in any sport at Wells to win an NCAA tournament game, achieved Friday night against Southern Virginia University.
The Express took the opening set 25-23. Wells trailed 23-21 but won the last four points in a row on a block from Ryan Turner and Joe Zimmerman, kills from Ryan Turner and Robert Patzer, and a hitting error on the Ducks.
Stevens rallied to win the second set 25-21. Wells led 4-1 early but Stevens went on an 11-4 run to take the lead, which it held the rest of the way. Stevens hit .500 in the set with 16 kills and two errors.
The Express went back ahead by taking the third set decisively. Wells won 25-16 and had 19 kills and three errors for a .390 hitting percentage, and led two sets to one.
Stevens tied things up by taking the fourth set 25-20. Wells led 9-6 early but Stevens won five points in a row. From there it was back-and-forth. Wells pulled within one at 20-19, but Stevens won five of the next six points to take the set. Wells hit .028 in the fourth with eight kills and seven errors.
Wells trailed 4-1 in the decisive set and slowly closed the gap. After the changeover, Stevens led 9-7 but a kill from Robert Patzer and an ace by Joe Zimmerman tied the score 9-9, and a pancake dig from Josh Undari went over the net and earned the go-ahead point for Wells, the first lead of the set for the Express. Stevens answered with a side out after a timeout and the teams traded points to 12-12. A block by Stevens put the Ducks ahead 13-12 and a hitting error on Wells gave two match points to Stevens. The Ducks closed it out 15-12 in the fifth.
Justin Williams had 16 kills and hit .667 in the match and had four block assists. Caden O'Loughlin had 15 kills, served three aces, led the team with 12 digs, and added one solo block and five block assists. Joe Zimmerman had 11 kills and served two aces, with 11 digs. Josh Undari had 51 assists and eight digs and served two aces.
Stevens advances to the NCAA semifinals next weekend where the Ducks will face UC Santa Cruz on Friday, April 26 at Kean University in Union, New Jersey. The other semifinal will match defending national champions Springfield College against SUNY New Paltz.
- Caden O'Loughlin passed 500 kills for the season, the first player in program history to reach that mark and one of two players in the country to hit that mark for the season.
- The back-and-forth contest was measured in the stats as Stevens won 104 total points and Wells won 103 points.
- Stevens is exceptionally tough on its home court, as the Ducks have one loss at Canavan Arena since 2015 and has more than 50 wins at home in that time.
- The Ducks are ranked third in the most recent American Volleyball Coaches Association Division III Men's Poll. Stevens won the NCAA Division III Championship in 2015, was in the final four in 2016 and 2017, and advanced to the championship match in 2018 where the Ducks fell to Springfield College.