MARCY, N.Y. – The SUNY Institute of Technology Wildcats defeated the Lancaster Bible College Chargers 3-0 to claim the 2014 North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Men's Volleyball Championship Saturday, marking their first-ever title in program history.
The Wildcats, who hosted the match as the top seed after winning the regular season conference championship with a 7-1 NEAC record, won by the scores of 25-17, 25-21 and 25-14 (box score). SUNYIT junior setter Jeff Knapp (Hamlin, N.Y.) paced the Wildcat offense, as the NEAC All-Conference Second Team selection registered a match-best 32 assists to go along with seven digs, two kills and an ace en route to claiming the Tournament Most Valuable Player award.
Game one saw both teams exchange points for an 11-11 tie in the early going, but SUNYIT used multiple kills from there to begin pulling away and take a 21-16 lead before taking advantage of three LBC errors for the 25-17 win. The Chargers responded early in game two with a 16-13 lead that forced a SUNYIT timeout, but the Wildcats answered by taking 10 of the next 13 game points thanks in part to six kills by sophomore Sean Conte (Hilton, N.Y.) to make it 23-19 in SUNYIT's favor. After two straight points by the Chargers, Conte would seal the deal with another kill followed by assisting on a block along with freshman Bobby Nilsen (Bohemia, N.Y.) for the 25-21 win.
On the cusp of the championship, the Wildcats stormed out to an 8-2 lead in game three before quickly doubling that for a 16-10 advantage. Multiple errors from there would doom the Chargers and vault the Wildcats to a 25-14 win that completed the sweep and clinched the NEAC title.
The Wildcats finished with a .427 hitting percentage on the day, smashing 40 kills and committing just eight errors on 75 attempts. Conte, a NEAC All-Conference Second Team selection, led the way up front, smacking 15 kills with no errors on 23 attempts. Freshman and fellow NEAC All-Conference Second team selection Matthew Cardot (Rush-Henrietta, N.Y.) finished with seven kills and two serve aces, while Nilsen totaled six kills and assisted on four blocks. Junior and NEAC Defensive Player of the Year Justin Rich (Hamburg, N.Y.) tallied seven digs and three assists.
Senior Mitch Demko (Slatingdon, Pa.), an All-Conference First Team selection, had 10 kills and four digs to lead the Chargers, who were making their second straight appearance in the NEAC Championships after claiming the second seed in this year's tournament. Senior and NEAC All-Conference First Teamer Alex Bahn (Seven Valleys, Pa.), last year's NEAC Player of the Year, registered 20 assists and four kills on the day. Senior Ken Diller (Lititz, Pa.) finished with six kills and three digs.
The Wildcats finished the season with a program-best overall record of 19-5, while the Chargers close the year at 7-19 (5-3 NEAC).
Release courtesy of Eugenio Mercurio @ neacsports.com