BOSTON, Mass. - The Endicott College and Emmanuel College men's volleyball teams turned in a five-set thriller in Beantown on Thursday night, as the Gulls earned a hard-fought victory over the Saints (25-21, 25-23, 22-25, 25-27, 15-12).
The victory lifts the Gulls to 13-9 on the season and the loss drops the Saints to 15-10 overall in 2016.
Neither team was able to gain momentum in the early stages as the Gulls and Saints split the first 18 points of the set straight down the middle. The visitors went on the first run of the match when they rattled off four straight points to take a 13-9 lead and force an Emmanuel timeout.
The run continued briefly, and the Gulls opened up a 15-10 lead, only to see the Saints score five of the next six points to cut the lead to 16-15. Emmanuel used three kills from senior Barrett Wingard (York, Pa.) to keep it close at 20-18, but the Gulls closed on a 5-3 run, winning the set on a kill by senior John Osborne (Freehold, N.J.).
The second set consisted of a few more runs than the rest of the match, as the Saints jumped out to a 10-6 lead, only to see it disappear after Endicott scored eight of the next 10 and led 14-13. The hosts showed resilience later in the set, using a Kevin Orsley (San Jose, Calif.) kill and a Gulls attack error to tie the game 18.
Then, Wingard, the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) leader in kills, took over for the Saints and picked up a block and two kills to force an Endicott timeout at 21-18. The quick break worked like a charm for the Gulls, who scored five of six points and caused the Saints to use a timeout of their own.
A service ace by Osborne and a Troy Riorden (Fairport, N.Y.) kill iced the set for Endicott and gave the Gulls a formidable 2-0 advantage in the match.
In the third set, neither team led by more than four points as both sides struggled to find any rhythm. After being deadlocked at 12, 13, 15, and 16, the Saints finally found some breathing room, after kills by senior Julian Hess (Santa Monica, Calif.), and freshmen Erik English (Simi Valley, Calif.), and Orsley ran the lead to 21-17.
Consecutive kills by Riorden and Osborne made things interesting as Endicott pulled within one, but Wingard and English fired back with kills of their own to end the set at 25-22.
The fourth set was the most exciting set of the match, despite the fact that Endicott led for nearly the entire frame. The Gulls led 24-21 and were closing in on the victory when head coach Bori May called his final timeout for the Saints.
Endicott helped the cause with a service error, bad set, and an attack error, and the set was even at 24-24. The teams traded kills to reach 25-all, but two more attack errors by the Gulls ended the set 27-25, in favor of the Saints, and forced a fifth set.
Emmanuel had a clear edge in momentum heading into the final set and it carried over onto the court. Wingard's 23rd kill of the match gave the Saints a 6-3 lead, and they led 8-5 as the teams switched sides, per fifth-set rules.
The Gulls were the better team after the switch and scored the next three points to even things up at 8-8, before eventually closing things out with a 6-3 run to win 15-12 and 3-2.
Wingard, who entered the night ranked fifth in the nation in total kills, finished the day with 25, marking his second match in the past week with 25+ kills. The senior also added 17 digs to his stat line in the loss. Freshman Andres Saladrigas (Miami, Fla.) had 47 assists in the absence of junior setter Jorge Rojas (San Juan, Puerto Rico) and senior Kevin Gallegos (Los Angeles, Calif.) picked up 13.
The Gulls had four players in double-digit kills, including Osborne, who led the team with 19 kills and 14 digs. Riorden posted 14 kills, junior Daniel Toth (Glenwood, N.J.) had 13, and senior Alex Wasik (Milford, Mass.) chipped in with 10. Senior Cameron Little (San Diego, Calif.) dished out 59 assists in the win.
The Saints get back to GNAC play on Tuesday, Mar. 29, when they battle Rivier in Nashua, N.H. at 7:00 p.m. The Gulls travel to Newbury on the same evening to take on the Nighthawks at 7:00 p.m.