In a packed Sadoff Gym, Marian University men’s volleyball (13-14, 5-7 NACC) swept Aurora in straight sets to earn a spot in the NACC Tournament semifinals.
The Sabres jumped all over the Spartans to open the match taking an 8-3 lead only to see Aurora battle back to tie the opening set at 11-11. Marian then used a 7-3 run to take an 18-14 only to have the Spartans battle back once again to cut their deficit down to 19-18. The Sabres continued to push and built out their lead to 23-19 and used a pair of kills from junior Jon Smallpage to close out the opening set at 25-22.
Smallpage led the Marian offense in the set with six kills, while senior Aaron Wendels recorded five kills and six digs.
The second set started much tighter than the first with Marian taking a slim 12-10 lead before using a 7-1 run to build their lead out to 19-11. The Spartans would cut the Sabre lead down to as little as three at 22-19 but the Sabres held off Aurora for a 25-21 set win.
The Sabre front row had a big part in the set win holding Aurora to a .034 hitting percentage in the set with four blocks. Smallpage and sophomore Jacob DeGroot each had three block assists to lead Marian in the set.
Attempting to force a fourth set, Aurora jumped out to an early 9-7 lead and eventually brought that lead out to 15-14. The Sabres then used a 6-1 run as they took a 20-16 lead in the set forcing a Spartan timeout. The timeout would slow the Sabre momentum but the Spartans were unable to chip away at the deficit and saw a Smallpage kill end the match with a 25-22 set final.
Smallpage was dominant in the final set recording seven kills to go with a .700 hitting percentage, while junior Cullen Liberski had six digs in the match-clinching set.
The Sabres finished with a .211 hitting percentage in the victory led by Smallpage who had a match-high 16 kills to go with a .452 hitting percentage. Wendels also chipped in 11 kills and junior Tyler Barnett hit .333 with seven kills.
The Marian back row was led by Liberski who had a match-high 13 digs with four Sabres recording eight or more digs.
Marian will travel to No. 8 Dominican Thursday, April 12 with first serve scheduled for 7 p.m. in the NACC Tournament semifinals. The Sabres and Stars will be facing off for the second time in seven days after Marian defeated then-ranked No. 7 Dominican in four sets.