NAPERVILLE, Ill. – Marian University men’s volleyball (1-2, 0-0 NACC) fell to No. 5 New York in five sets and North Central (Ill.) in straight sets to close out the opening weekend of the season.
The Sabres dropped the opening two sets against the nationally-ranked Violets 25-18 before the offense found a rhythm and mounted a comeback. Marian would hit .421 in the third set as they won a nail-biter 25-23 before a similar type of set in the fourth. The Sabre defense played well in the fourth holding New York to a .061 hitting percentage as MU squeaked out a 27-25 win to force a fifth set.
In the winner-take-all set, New York used a 6-2 run to take a 9-6 advantage, which proved to be too big of a hole for Marian to climb out of falling 15-12.
Junior Jon Smallpage hit .361 in the loss with a match-high 19 kills to go with 11 digs for a double-double. Senior Aaron Wendels chipped in 14 kills, while junior Culleen Liberski had a match-high 12 digs in the back row.
The second match of the day was all North Central (Ill.) as the Cardinals hit .291 against the Sabres and cruised to a 25-17, 25-17, 25-20 sweep.
Smallpage and Wendels each had nine kills and Liberski had a strong performance in the back row with a match-high 14 digs. Junior Joey Dittman assisted on 23 of the 26 Sabre kills.
Marian will next take on UC-Santa Cruz from the Kern Center in Milwaukee, Wis. for a 7 p.m. non-conference match.