UTICA, N.Y. – The SUNYIT Men's Volleyball Team (2-22) put together a valiant effort Wednesday night, stretching the visiting Bard Raptors (8-14) to 4 games in a 3-1 loss. The Wildcats played an inspired match on a night honoring their two departing seniors, Tim Ross (Liverpool, N.Y. / Liverpool) and Ryan Meller (Eden, N.Y. / Eden).
Down 2-1, the Wildcats rallied in the fourth set to take a 21-18 lead. The Raptors battled back to tie it at 21 before OH Meller sent a thunderous kill to the other side of the net, giving SUNYIT a 22-21 lead.
Down 23-22 the Wildcats seemed to catch a break when Raptor hitter Nick Chan sent a serve into the net, but the volleyball gods would repay the Raptors on the very next play when a partial Wildcat block that seemed to hang in the air forever fluttered to the ground in no-man's land, giving Bard a 24-23 lead.
As he had done his entire career, Meller was there to give SUNYIT a chance, slamming a kill unimpeded to the Bard side of the court to tie the score once again at 24.
The two teams would trade points until 27-26 when a Justus Stahrr (Liverpool, N.Y. / Liverpool) kill attempt was blocked by the Raptors, giving them a 28-26 edge in the game and a 3-1 match victory.
"I think we're playing the best we have all year, we're just coming up a little short," said Wildcat skipper Jake Bluhm, "we're playing great volleyball, unfortunately it's just not showing up in our record yet."
On senior night, Ross put together a solid performance with 6 digs and 6 block-assists, as the Wildcats had their best blocking night of the year, leading Bard in BA's 21 to 12. Ross, a three-year player for SUNYIT, has been an integral part of Wildcat volleyball according to Bluhm: "Tim had never played volleyball when he arrived here at SUNYIT, and over the years he's turned himself into now a team-captain and an indispensable part of our team – he's a guy who'll do whatever he can to help the team win."
The Wildcats' other senior, Meller, had his best performance of the year on the night honoring him, racking up a season-high 20 kills to go along with 6 digs and 7 total blocks. "Ryan is a four-year player at SUNYIT and really the foundation of our program here," said Bluhm. "He's the all-time leader at SUNYIT in both kills and digs, and he has truly led by example with his play over a great career."
While the Wildcats have no more home matches remaining, they look forward to two more weekend tournaments on the road. They will suit up next for a meeting with New Jersey City at the Endicott College Tournament in Beverly, M.A. Match time is set for March 24th at 2:00 pm.