No. 2 Men’s Volleyball sweeps No. 3 Ramapo in Skyline Semifinals to advance to second straight conference title game
JERSEY CITY, NJ – The energy was palpable all night as the second-seeded New Jersey City University men’s volleyball team swept third-seeded Ramapo College straight out of the championship tournament in the Skyline conference on Thursday evening April 7. The Gothic Knights, looking to clinch their second – straight title berth Skyline did just that at the John J. Moore Athletics and Fitness Center (JMAC) tonight as they beat the Roadrunners to the second consecutive encounter, this time in three sets (25-22, 25-16, 25-20). NJCU now heads to Patchogue, NY, to take on top-seeded St. Joseph’s College-Long Island on Saturday afternoon, April 9, in a rematch of last season’s five-set thriller, which ultimately dispatched the green and gold at their first NCAA Division III Men’s Volleyball Championship in program history. Back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths will be on the line this weekend.
Reigning American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division III National Player of the Week Senior Outside Batting Duo Jonathan Andrews (North Bergen, NJ/North Bergen) and tri-captain junior opposite James Bajor (Bayonne, NJ/Bayonne) led the way offensively for the Gothic Knights (22-8). Each finished the night with 12 effective kills, as Andrews (two errors on 27 swings, .370 strike percentage) added an ace, three digs and a pair of blocks, while Bajor (two errors on 25 swings, 0.400) finished with seven hollows and three blocks. The Big Man in the Middle and New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Defensive Player of the Week, three-time junior captain Brandon DaSilva (Kearny, NJ/Kearny) also had a good night and finished with eight kills on 15 swings with four errors (.267) to go with a game tied four blocks against the Roadrunners (15-13). Senior Libero Daniel Esteva (Union, NJ/Union) held down the back row, once again, and led all players with 13 digs.
Series #1: NJCU 25, Ramapo 20
Things started with the teams separated by just two points, 9-7, at the start of the first set. At that point, the Gothic Knights kicked into high gear and went on a 7-3 series to make it a 16-10 game. Bajor picked up three of his wins in that one push. However, Ramapo clawed his way back and eventually tied it at 17-17 before Jersey City regained control. Eventually, thanks to a kill from DaSilva and then a block from him and Bajor, NJCU led 22-19. Ramapo would tie it again at 22-22. Junior tri-captain outside hitter Hanel Collado (North Bergen, NJ/North Bergen) – who had missed nearly a month through injury – netted a kill to make it 23-22 before back-to-back strikes from Bajor sealed the first set, 25-22.
Set #2: NJCU 25, Ramapo 16
This one belonged to the Gothic Knights from the start. They started with a 5-1 run thanks entirely to Andrews and DaSilva, who combined for three kills and teamed up for a block. The Roadrunners closed the gap to one at 7-6, but the home side gathered momentum again and jumped on a stunning 13-3 run to take a 20-9 advantage. It was mostly a team effort during that streak, but the senior setter Leo Ferrari (Kearny, NJ/Kearny) scored some nice runs with a kill to start it, a combo block with a freshman middle blocker Nate Aguilar (Kearny, NJ/Kearny) and five assists. He finished the night with 32 assists. As expected, the set ultimately ended in favor of NJCU, 25-16, thanks to another kill from Andrews to top it all off.
Set #3: NJCU 25, Ramapo 20
The Roadrunners actually started hot in this one, taking a 5-2 lead to force an early timeout by the head coach. Carlo Edra. That tactic seemed to work, however, and NJCU got back into the set before finally tying it at 7-7 via a monster kill by DaSilva. From that point on, the battle was evenly matched as both teams went back and forth until Jersey City held a slim 20-19 lead. The Gothic Knights closed out the game with a 5-1 run, including a block and kill from Aguilar, a kill from Collado and a decisive ace from Collado as well.
As mentioned, Jersey City return to action on Saturday with hopes of defending their 2021 Skyline crown in a rematch with the Golden Ealges on Long Island at 3:00 p.m.