NEWTON, MA- In an outstanding Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) clash between Lasell College and nationally ranked Rivier College, the Raiders proved victorious after an extremely close five set match (27-29, 25-20, 25-20, 18-25, 15-8). Rivier, most recently ranked 8th across Division III men's volleyball by the AVCA's Top 15 coaches poll, improves their overall record to 19-5 while remaining undefeated in the conference at 7-0. Lasell drops to 9-8 this season and levels their conference slate at 2-2.
The Raiders were led by a 22 kill performance by Jared Andreozzi (Barrington, RI). The senior captain also chipped in with three aces, three digs and a block. Steve Visentin (Cheshire, CT) unloaded 40 assists to the Raider attackers who finished the game with 50 kills as a team on 141 total swings. Visentin recorded a double-double by also collecting 10 digs in the match.
Defensively, Rivier had a notable 18 dig showing by Chris Converitito (Trumbull, CT), leading all players in the contest.
Lasell's Spencer Parker (Newington, CT) also registered a double-double with 19 kills and 12 digs, while also turning out four solo blocks. Mike Harrington (Billerica, MA) yielded nine kills and five total blocks and Alex Mill (Danville, NH) supplied seven kills, nine digs, and four service aces for Lasell.
Andrew Glenn (Westport, CT) distributed 40 assists while also churning out five digs and three blocks and Harry Strobel (Westport, CT) had a team-high 13 digs in the game defensively, while delivering nine kills on offense.
Rivier came out on a 3-0 run to start after two kills by Andreozzi and a Laser attacking error. Behind kills by Harrington and Mill, and back-to-back service errors by the Raiders, Lasell produced their first lead of the game, 6-5.
Rivier came back to knot the score at 7-all on a Taylor Lindner (Cheshire, CT) line shot on the back-side attack but Lasell regained the lead on a monstrous tandem outside block by Aiu and Glenn.
The teams played neck-in-neck through five more ties at which point Rivier turned up the pressure. With the score equal at 13-all, two straight Andreozzi service aces and an individual block by John Furka (Massapequa, NY) turned the scoreboard to the visitors' advantage, 16-13.
Lasell came roaring back to tie the score at 23-all after trailing by as many as four points. With the score level, Aiu tipped a ball into an open pocket in the Raider's back court. The Raiders would not let Lasell close the set up as Lindner put away an attack to level the score, and then a Lasers ball-handling error gave them the edge.
On Rivier's first set-point, Strobel got a kill to keep the game alive. A service error by Lasell gave Rivier their second chance at putting the game away, but Parker drilled an outside attack into the back corner to balance the score once more.
A block assist by Harrington and Glenn put Lasell back on top 27-26, but neither team was ready to finish the frame. Rivier came back on a hit by Sam Kazlas (Allentown, PA) to even the score for the 14th time but Lasell reached their final set-point in the next play after a miscue on the Raiders side. Harrington put away the final kill of the game off an assist from Glenn to win, 29-27.
Lasell carried over the momentum from the first set to race out to a 4-1 lead into the second frame. Androezzi proved to be the key to the Raiders comeback as he notched two kills and a solo block to bring the score to 6-all.
Lasell was not ready to relinquish their lead and bounced back with a well placed attack by Aiu and an out-of-rotation call on the Raiders. Lasell continued to put the pressure on as they molded a 5-1 run to take a 12-7 edge.
Kazlas broke the Lasers stride with a well placed shot off the Lasers' blockers hands and the teams traded side-outs through a 15-10 Laser lead. Mill beat Visentin out on a blocking battle on an overpass and Lasell pushed ahead 16-11. The Raiders, playing catch-up, managed a 4-1 stretch to close the gap to two.
Lasell eventually regrouped and adjusted to gain a side-out with an 18-16 edge, but another 4-2 run by the visitors evened the score at 20-20, and then took their first lead on Laser errors. The Raiders scored five straight points to end the set 25-20 in their advantage.
Rivier led 7-2 to start the third game before Lasell launched a furious comeback attempt to knot the score at 14-all after two single-blocks by Harrington in the middle. Following their rally, the Raiders scored three straight points to stay on top, and then extended their run to 8-1.
Down by eight (23-15), the Lasers once again forged forward into a rally scoring five straight points, but two final individual blocks by Lindner and Alex Xenidis (Shelton, CT) sealed the match-leading set, 25-20.
In the pivotal fourth set, Lasell started with a 4-1 lead all on Raider blunders. The visitors gathered themselves to pull through a 4-4 tie but Lasell scored the next three points to revive their lead.
The Lasers held a 15-8 lead after pair of kills and a block by Aiu, all assisted by Glenn. A block by Parker gave Lasell their biggest advantage of the match, 19-10, as they held the Raiders to just two points in a 10 point stretch.
Settling into a 22-13 lead, after Parker's 16th kill of the match, the Lasers faced a four point run by the Raiders to cut their lead to just five, 22-17 after three kills by Andreozzi. A kill from Parker in the back row brought Lasell to game-point and a rocket from Strobel ended the crucial match, 25-18, forcing a fifth set.
In the deciding set, two kills by Parker and an ace by Aiu started Lasell on the right track, taking a 4-1 lead. The Raiders hung in to produce the 23rd tie of the match at 4-all, after two Andreozzi kills. Rivier pulled ahead 6-4 on a Lindner and Furka duel rejection at the net. Kills by Kazla and Andreozzi put the Raiders ahead, 7-4.
A right side attack by Mill gave Lasell the side-out but a service error on Lasell's side cost them the ball and proved to be a turning point in the set. Visentin and Xenidis paired up for a block and a scramble of overpasses ended in Xenidis connecting with the court to give Rivier an 11-7 advantage. Strobel broke up the Raiders four point run but the momentum stayed in the visitors' favor. Rivier came to match-point after a trifecta of errors of Lasell's attack and Andreozzi secured the match on a final kill on an overpass.
At the conclusion of the match, the Lasers got ready to face non-conference foes Daniel Webster College in the second match of the night. The Raiders return to action on Wednesday, February 23rd against Newbury College, at 7:00 p.m.