By Samip Delhiwala
Published: February 21st, 2018
After two confidence-building sweeps against Yeshiva University and St. Joseph’s College, the Brooklyn College men’s volleyball team lost its first two conference matches of the season, 0-3 (18-25, 10-25, 21-25) to Hunter College and 1-3 (19-25, 25-23, 20-25, 19-25) to John Jay College, in the City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) Tri-Match on Monday at the Hunter College Sportsplex.
The Bulldogs (3-7, 0-2 in conference) started strong in their first rematch against the defending CUNYAC champion Hunter College Hawks (5-4, 2-0 in conference) since they were swept in the 2017 CUNYAC Quarterfinal match.
BC took advantage of Hunter’s miscues in the beginning of the first set—its first eight points came from Hunter errors until Ahmed Moawad’s kill scored its ninth point—and managed to maintain pace with the opposition.
But after a service error allowed BC to cut the deficit to 14-13, the Bulldogs broke their momentum with three straight offensive blunders. Junior outside hitter Vaughn Titus’ service error, followed by an attack error and bad set by Akbarali Aliyev, gave Hunter a 17-13 advantage. BC failed to recover, and the Hawks managed to score its final three points on additional Bulldog errors.
The Bulldogs struggled mightily to open up the second set. Back-to-back kills by Blake Hogan and Daniel Dobrogowski started a 7-0 Hunter run to give it a 7-1 lead, forcing a BC timeout.
Moawad managed to score a point for BC on an assist from junior Sayuj Zachariah, but Hunter’s Matthew Zukowski followed suit.
Hogan contributed six more kills in the set, helping his team crush the Bulldogs to take a commanding 2-0 lead going into the third set.
Brooklyn looked far more competitive in the third set, taking a 4-1 lead after a Titus kill. Titus managed another kill to give his team a 6-4 lead, but Hunter went on a momentum-shifting 4-0 run to take an 8-6 lead. The Bulldogs were able to tie it at 8-8 after two Hunter attack errors, but a Dobrogowski kill and two service aces gave Hunter an 11-8 lead. Both teams maintained a steady scoring pace, until an attack error gave the Bulldogs a 21-20 lead. But two more kills by Hogan, paired with a couple of attack errors and a service ace gave the Hawks a match-clinching 5-0 run.
Titus and Moawad led the Bulldogs in kills, with five and four, respectively. Titus also added two blocks and three digs. Zachariah contributed eight assists and four digs.
For the Hawks, Hogan led the team with 15 kills and eight digs.
Against John Jay College (6-4, 1-1 in conference), the BC offense got off to a hot start in the first set, with Aliyev and Titus combining for three kills to take a 3-2 lead. But the Bloodhounds’ Christopher Rincon and Juan DeJesus answered back with a kill each, and the team carried the momentum to secure a 7-4 lead. The Bulldogs stayed competitive, but John Jay used a 5-0 run to pull away with a 16-8 lead, and BC was unable to trim the deficit.
The second set was Brooklyn’s finest of the day. Titus’ assist on a Gabriel Pjatak kill gave the Bulldogs an early 11-7 lead, and a combination of steady offense and taking advantage of Hunter’s errors gave them their only set win in the doubleheader to even the match at 1-1.
The third set featured a tight race down the stretch, and a John Jay service error put Brooklyn within striking distance with a 19-21 deficit. But Rincon’s kill opened up a 3-0 run for the Bloodhounds, with Miranda’s bad set giving them their 25th point and 2-1 lead.
The Bloodhounds looked ready to end the match quickly in the fourth and final set, as they used multiple runs to take a demoralizing 23-11 lead. But the Bulldogs weren’t ready to go home just yet, and went on a massive 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 23-18. Zachariah’s kill once again made it a five-point set after John Jay scored on a ball handling error, but Krystian Surdel answered with his own kill to give the Bloodhounds the victory.
Titus once again led his team with 10 kills, three aces, and nine digs. Pjatak played well too, contributing seven kills, five blocks, and an ace. Moaz Ali Choudhary led the Bulldogs in blocks, with six, while Zachariah had a team-high 14 assists.
Surdel dominated on the other end for the Bloodhounds, notching 16 kills. Rincon, who was named the CUNYAC Men’s Volleyball Rookie of the Week, had a game-high 37 assists.
The Bulldogs will move on to play at Sarah Lawrence College on Saturday at 1 p.m. before their home opener against Yeshiva University next Tuesday at 8 p.m. They will have their chance for CUNYAC redemption against York College on Tuesday, March 6.