NEWARK, N.J. --- Senior Chad Mercado (Orlando, Fla.) posted 20 kills and a blistering .581 hitting percentage to lead the Lees-McRae College men's volleyball team to a straight-set sweep of NCAA Division I New Jersey Institute of Technology on Friday night to push the Bobcats' winning streak to four matches.
Lees-McRae (8-6) combined for a scorching .471 hitting percentage on the night, including a pair of set clips over .500. The Bobcats won the match by scores of 25-16, 25-18, and 25-21 to notch their fourth straight victory, while posting six blocks, 31 digs, and holding NJIT (3-8) to a .202 clip on the attack.
Mercado posted his third 20-kill match of the season, recording 20 smashes and just two errors on 31 swings, while not registering a miscue until midway through the third set. Randy Ramirez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) notched two kills, five blocks, and a match-high 40 assists, while freshman Eduardo Gonzales (San Juan, Puerto Rico) chipped in 10 kills on 15 swings for a .533 attacking clip. Efrain Negron (Orlando, Fla.) also notched a team-high eight digs for LMC.
Kevin Van Oss (Dayton, Ohio) paced the Highlanders with 10 kills on 18 swings, posting a .444 hitting percentage as Adam Gustafson (Monee, Ill.) notched a double-double with 24 assists and a match-high 10 digs. Andrei Stoyanow (Sao Paulo, Brazil) chipped seven kills for NJIT, while Brady Smith (Kurtistown, Hawaii) added six digs.
Lees-McRae never trailed in the first set, taking a 15-8 lead on a trio of Mercado kills as the senior opposite posted a perfect 8-for-8 opening frame. The Bobcats maintained a comfortable advantage for the duration of the set, capping the frame with back-to-back kills by Mercado and Edmund Walkley (Glenbrook, Australia).
NJIT fought back in the second, taking a 12-9 lead with a 3-0 spurt before Lees-McRae responded, countering with an 8-1 spurt to claim a 17-13 advantage on a Gonzales kill. Lees-McRae then closed out the set with an 8-5 run to notch the 25-18 second-frame win on a kill by Matt Harpenau (Cincinnati, Ohio).
The third set proved to be a closely contested affair, with neither team claiming more than a three-point advantage until, with the score line reading 21-20 in favor of the Highlanders, Lees-McRae launched a decisive 5-0 spurt to close out the match on back-to-back kills by Gonzales.
Lees-McRae returns to the court on Saturday when the Bobcats travel to University Park, Pa. to take on No. 11 Penn State University. First serve is slated for 3 p.m. in the South Gym of Rec Hall.
- LMC -