By Samip Delhiwala
Published: March 7th, 2018
After sweeping Yeshiva University in its home opener two days prior, the Brooklyn College men’s volleyball team carried that momentum to crush New Jersey City University (NJCU) 3-0 (25-23, 25-16, 26-24) at the West Quad Center on Thursday evening.
The Bulldogs (6-7, 0-2 in conference) looked sluggish to start the match, and allowed the Gothic Knights (5-7) to build confidence on offense. Julian Moreira’s kill gave NJCU its largest lead in the first set, 14-9, which forced BC to call a timeout to gather the team together.
The timeout seemed to be a significant turning point for the Brooklyn offense.
After a service error and attack error trimmed the Knights’ lead to 14-11, BC captain Ian Miranda’s service ace followed by Akbarali Aliyev’s kill put the Bulldogs within one. Moreira’s attack error capped off a set-tying 5-0 run for the Bulldogs.
Miranda’s service error gave a 15-14 lead to NJCU, but the road team relinquished it in the form of another 5-0 run for Brooklyn. Sophomore middle blocker Gabriel Pjatak started the run with a set-tying kill, and sophomore and Brooklyn native Ahmed Moawad followed that up with two kills, both assisted by Sayuj Zachariah.
After the run forced a NJCU timeout, Brooklyn’s 19-15 lead proved too commanding to overcome. Both teams exchanged scores and the Knights’ Jimmy Vega’s service error ended the set.
BC had a far better start to the second set, with Pjatak establishing the offense with a kill to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. A bad set and attack error capped off a miniature 3-0 opening run for the Bulldogs.
NJCU was able to keep pace afterwards, scoring three of the next four points after Vega assisted on two kills, which cut BC’s lead to 4-3. The Bulldogs followed with another 3-0 run, which featured a kill from veteran Vaughn Titus, until Pjatak’s service error gave NJCU its fourth point in the set.
That’s when the Bulldogs’ offense struck yet again.
Zachariah assisted on back-to-back kills by Titus and Moawad, which was then followed by an attack error by the Knights.
Senior and middle hitter Moaz Ali Choudhary then fired a service ace that ignited a roar from the home crowd, and a bad set by NJCU capped a masterful 5-0 run that forced the Knights to call a timeout.
Brooklyn’s offense stumbled out of the timeout and allowed four points on four errors, but intermittent kills by Moawad, Aliyev, and Pjatak helped maintain the Bulldogs’ large lead. While it seemed that the Knights were ready to make a comeback, consecutive errors set up a service ace by Titus to give the Bulldogs the second set on a 3-0 run.
The Bulldogs again opened up the third and final set with a 3-0 run that featured one kill apiece for Choudhary and Moawad, both assisted on by Zachariah. The teams exchanged scores until a BC service error cut its lead to just 10-9.
The Knights looked hungry to tie the set and take the lead, but instead committed an attack error to give the Bulldogs an 11-9 lead. BC’s offense took advantage and served up three straight kills, including two from Titus and Moawad, to take a 14-10 lead.
It was clear, however, that NJCU saved its best volleyball for the final set. The road team fought back to score four of the next five points, only allowing an attack error in that span, to cut Brooklyn’s lead to 15-14. An attack error and Titus’ service ace made it 17-14, but the Knights fired right back with a set-tying 3-0 run, capped off by a kill from Mohamed Youssef.
The final minutes of the set became extremely competitive, with both teams exchanging scores and runs until they found themselves tied at 24 apiece.
NJCU subbed in Vega, who led his team with 16 assists, but a sloppy attack error by Alexander Umanzor gave BC a 25-24 lead and match-point. The Knights’ only hope was to tie the set, but Titus delivered a clutch, match-ending service ace to give the Bulldogs their third straight win and second straight home win.
Moawad led the Bulldogs with nine kills, while Titus stuffed the stat sheet with eight kills, three aces, and two blocks. Pjatak contributed with six kills and two blocks, and Zachariah had a game-high 17 assists.
For the Knights, Moreira led the team with nine kills but also committed a game-high six attack errors.
The Bulldogs played their third straight home match last night against City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) rival York College. The results can be found at www.brooklyncollegeathletics.com.
The team will travel to the College of Staten Island (CSI) to compete in the CUNYAC Tri-Match, where it will play Medgar Evers College at 3 p.m. on Sunday and CSI a few hours later. The Bulldogs return home on Thursday, March 15 for a rematch against CSI.