Super Saturday For DIII No. 3 Vassar, Wins and Awards


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Mahway, N.J. - The Dream Season Continues. On Saturday, Vassar's men's volleyball team, the No. 1 seed in the NECVA Tournament, swept both No. 9 MIT and No. 5 Ramapo to advance to Sunday's Championship match against No. 6 Newbury College at 1:00 pm at Ramapo College.

It was a near flawless performance for the Brewers, who defeated host Ramapo in the afternoon match 30-25, 30-21, 30-26 and MIT in the morning, 30-27, 30-22, 30-22.

With full rest following the morning victory over MIT, the Brewers were able to jump all over Ramapo, which played a tough five game match against No. 4 Stevens in its quarterfinal match, and was ill prepared for Vassar's energy and aggressive attacking frontline that had four players earn double figures in kills earlier in the day.

The evening was equally as sweet for the Brewers, as head coach Jonathan Penn was named the NECVA Conference Coach of the Year and sophomore hitter Phil Tully (Huntington Station, NY) was named to NECVA Conference Player of the Year.

Earning a spot on the NECVA All-Conference First-Team was Tully and senior libero Kyle Giunta (Penfield, NY). Junior setter/hitter John Kessenich (Chicago, IL) was tabbed to the Second-Team.

Last time against Newbury
In the final home match of the season, Vassar defeated No. 11 Newbury 3-2 (30-28, 26-30, 30-22, 26-30, 15-12).

NECVA Championship: What's At Stake?
The NECVA champion earns a bid to the 2008 Molten Division III Men's Invitational Volleyball Championship to be played on April 11-12 at Blake Arena on the Springfield College campus. As the host institution, Springfield, a four-time winner of this event, will receive an automatic berth to the four-team championship. The tournament field will also include a representative from the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) and the North East Collegiate Volleyball Association (NECVA). The fourth team will be an at-large selection from either the Midwest or West regions.

Against Ramapo
The Brewers hit .484 (59-13-95) in the three games, and were led once again by Tully, who had 14 kills. Senior Tom Pawlowski (Havertown, PA) had his best game of the championships with 13 kills and hit an amazing .647 (13-2-17). Consistent junior Scott Leserman (Manhattan Beach, CA) had 11 kills and fellow classmate Steve Micucci (Millis, MA) was even better attack wise, hitting a .692 percentage and hammering home 10 kills (10-1-13). Junior John Kessenich (Chicago, IL) had 49 kills.

NECVA Conference Awards
On the awards side, Penn, Tully, Giunta and Kessenich had previously earned honors as the Metro Division Coach of the Year and First-Team honorees, making them eligible for overall Conference recognition. Penn was named the NECVA Coach of the Year, Tully and Giunta to the First-Team, Kessenich to the Second-Team.

As recognition of the Brewers' successful turnaround from an 8-15 record a year ago to 21-6 record heading into the NECVA Championships, head coach Jonathan Penn was named the 2008 NECVA Metro Division Coach of the Year and on Saturday evening was tabbed as the overall NECVA Conference Coach of the Year. After returning from a sabbatical last year, Penn has coached the Brewers through their first season in the NECVA, during which they have been ranked No. 1 of the 39 member teams for six weeks, and have yet to lose a match in NECVA play, the record now swelling to 21-0. Most impressively, the Brewers currently sit third in the CSTV/AVCA Division III Men's Top 15 Coaches Poll, their highest ranking of the season. Last week, the Brewers were ranked No. 4. In addition to knocking off then-No. 1 Nazareth College en route to winning their home tournament, the Brewers also snapped the 56-game NECVA Metro Division winning streak of rival Stevens Institute of Technology.

* Sophomore outside hitter Phil Tully (Huntington Station, NY/Walt Whitman) was named the both the NECVA Conference and Metro Division Player of the Year. He was the overall Conference Player of the Week twice and Metro Player of the Week four times. Tully ranks 8th nationally (as of March 25th statistics) in kills (375/4.69) and points (5.45/game). He performed at his peak against some of the top national powerhouses, with 32 kills against Springfield College and Stevens.

* Senior libero Kyle Giunta (Penfield, NY/Penfield), is currently ranked 9th nationally in digs (314/3.31), and is Vassar's career leader in that category. Giunta is ranked among the top ten in the NECVA in digs and registered double figures in digs in 19 of Vassar's 30 matches.

* John Kessenich is 5th in the nation in assists (11.94), and was named NECVA Metro Player of the Week earlier this season. Kessenich is a versatile player, displaying the ability to play the front line in addition to his duties as a setter. He had seven games this season with 50 or more assists, with 82 coming against Stevens and 70 against Springfield.

Article courtesy of Vassar athletics.

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