By Samip Delhiwala
Published: April 18th, 2018
After finishing the regular season with its best winning percentage (.565, 13-10 overall record, 5-3 in conference) since 2007, the Brooklyn College men’s volleyball team failed to make any noise in the City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) Championships. The fourth seed Bulldogs fell to fifth seed Lehman College 1-3 (25-22, 21-25, 20-25, 14-25) in the CUNYAC Quarterfinal match on Monday, April 10 at the West Quad Center at Brooklyn College.
The two teams were fighting evenly to start off the first set, with a Lehman kill setting up a 16-15 advantage for the road team. But the Bulldogs pulled ahead with a 5-0 run that ended with a kill by Gabriel Pjatak, putting the team up 20-16. Lehman failed to catch up, and senior middle hitter Moaz Ali Choudhary won the set for the Bulldogs with a kill.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs failed to carry that momentum into the remaining sets; their point total decreased through each set, perhaps due to fatigue.
In the second set, BC went down early and played from behind all the way. Late in the set, a Lehman service error gave Brooklyn a point and cut the Lightning lead to 22-20. But Lehman recovered to score two straight, putting the set out of reach for the Bulldogs.
BC matched Lehman’s intensity for the first half of the third set, and the two teams exchanged kills to an 11-11 tie. But a ball handling error committed by the Bulldogs’ Ahmed Moawad fueled a 4-0 Lehman run that the Bulldogs failed to effectively chip away at, and a kill from Yaw Eshun ended the set to give Lehman a 2-1 match advantage.
The fourth and final set featured more of the same for the Bulldogs; they competed for a bit before Lehman pulled away. After the two exchanged scores, senior and captain Ian Miranda’s kill tied the set up at 9-9. But Lehman’s Peter Veljovic’s kill sparked a massive 7-0 run to give the Lightning a commanding 16-9 lead that Brooklyn never recovered from. After a few more mini-runs by Lehman, Veljovic delivered the match-clinching kill off of an assist by George Montilla.
CUNYAC Student Athlete of the Month Vaugn Titus led the Bulldogs with a season-high 11 kills and five digs for 12 points. Pjatak and Moawad combined for 19 kills and had three blocks apiece. Junior Sayuj Zachariah finished with a team-high 35 assists.
For Lehman, Eshun led the way with a game-high 20 kills and five digs. Filipe Velandia followed with 17 kills, and George Montilla had a game-high 45 assists.
The loss was a somber event for seniors Miranda, Choudhary, and Sebastian Girodano.
“I started with this team when I was a freshman, and we went 1-28,” Miranda said, reflecting on his four years on the team as he prepares for graduation this May. “Now we’re serious contenders for the finals; it’s crazy to think how far we’ve come. I’m proud of my team and myself for improving so much. I was a little upset that we lost so early (and especially to Lehman), but we had an amazing year. I won’t let our season be defined by our last game.”
With the win, Lehman moved on to play Hunter College in the CUNYAC Semifinal match at the Hunter College Sportsplex on Friday, but lost 3-0.