Elms Men’s Volleyball Falls to Baruch College, 3-0 in First Round of Inaugural NCAA Division III Championship

Yonalvy Acosta, Elms
Yonalvy Acosta, Elms

MANHATTAN, N.Y. – A trio of Elms College players smashed seven kills, but Baruch College's Nick Smith (Long Beach, N.Y.) downed eight kills and the Bearcats earned a 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-19) sweep in the first round of the inaugural NCAA Division III Championship for men's volleyball on Saturday evening at ARC Arena in Manhattan, N.Y.

With the loss, Elms concludes its season 20-8 overall, while Baruch improves to 24-16 and advances to play tournament host and top-seed Springfield College on Friday, April 27 at Blake Arena at 12:30 p.m.

In the opening set, the sides played to five early ties and an 8-8 deadlock before Baruch College used a 5-1 run to stake a 13-9 lead. Elms' freshman middle hitter Angel Castro (Carolina, Puerto Rico) halted the rally with back-to-back kills to set the score at 13-11 in favor of the Bearcats. Trailing 18-16, Blazers' junior outside hitter Stephen Cameron (Newington, Conn.) delivered a pair of kills to tie the set for a sixth time. Baruch extended its lead back to three (21-18) before Elms responded with three straight points of their own, highlighted by kills from senior outside hitterCarlos DeLeon (Carolina, Puerto Rico) and senior middle hitter Yonalvy Acosta (Holyoke, Mass.) to even the frame at 21-21. After the sides exchanged points, Cameron floored an ace to give Elms its first lead of the set. From there, a pair of Blazers attacking errors allowed Baruch to claim the first stanza, 25-23.

Acosta downed four kills, while Castro and DeLeon added three each for the Blazers in the opening frame. Sophomore setter Daniel Lebron (San Juan, Puerto Rico) distributed 10 assists as Elms hit .241 as a team.

Baruch was led by Smith who tallied four kills, while Steven Coniglio (Plainview, N.Y.) followed with three. Setter Danny Olson (Franklin, Ind.)dished out 10 helpers in the open set.

The second stanza saw Baruch run out to a 4-1 lead before a service error and a kill by Castro sparked a 3-0 run and set the score at 4-4. With the score set at 5-5, the Bearcats exploded for an 8-0 run before a service misfire halted the run. Baruch extended its lead to 16-7 before Elms received kills from Cameron and an ace by Rainey to pull the Blazers to within six at 16-10. The Bearcats built its lead to 24-17 before a Rainey kill pulled Elms to within six at 24-18, but Smith's seventh kill of the match allowed Baruch to claim the set, 25-18 and take a 2-0 lead in the contest.

In the third frame, Elms broke out to a 6-2 lead on the strength of assisted blocks by Cameron and Castro and Acosta and Castro as well as kills by DeLeon and Castro to post its four-point lead. Baruch responded with four consecutive points to even the frame at 6-6 highlighted by a solo block byVincent Cruz (Torrington, Conn.) before Rainey terminated a ball to end the rally.  Four more ties brought the score to 10-10 before a Bearcats' attacking error and an assisted block by Castro, DeLeon and Acosta allowed the Blazers to take a 12-10 lead.

Four more ties set the score at 16-16 before Sam Park (Little Neck, N.Y.) and Gabe Rivera (Central Islip, N.Y.) floored back-to-back kills to give Baruch an 18-16 lead and the Bearcats continued to stretch its lead to 22-16 until a kill by Castro pulled the Blazers to within five at 22-17. Consecutive errors by Baruch allowed Elms to creep to within four at 23-19 but a Blazers miscue and a kill by Park allowed the Bearcats to claim a 25-19 victory and advance to the next round of the 2012 NCAA Division III Championship.

Castro, Rainey and DeLeon each finished with seven kills, while Cameron and Acosta chipped in four kills each. Lebron dished out 20 assists, while Cameron led the squad with seven digs.

The Bearcats received eight kills from Smith and six each from Coniglio and Rivera to help spark the win, while Olson paced the offense with 29 assists. Rivera added eight digs – a match-best – while Cruz added a solo block and four assisted blocks.