January 28, 2012

Highlanders edge Bobcats in four sets

Box score

NEWARK, N.J. --- The New Jersey Institute of Technology men's volleyball team battled to a hard-fought win over Lees-McRae College on Saturday evening, emerging victorious in four sets as the Bobcats' Jose Ribas (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) tallied a match-high 20 kills.

NJIT (3-3) posted a hitting percentage of .295 on the night, recording seven blocks and five service aces, while holding Lees-McRae (1-3) to a .250 clip on the attack. The Bobcats tallied six service aces and five blocks in the match.

Ribas led the way for the Bobcats with 20 kills and a .350 hitting percentage, while John Lucas (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Chris Flood (Louisville, Ky.) added 11 and seven smashes, respectively. Lucas nearly tallied a double-double with a team-high nine digs, as Efrain Negron (Caguas, Puerto Rico) dug out nine NJIT attacks of his own. Randy Ramirez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) chipped in a match-high 46 assists, while Matt Harpenau (Cincinnati, Ohio) recorded a contest-best three service aces.

The Highlanders' TJ Jurko equaled Ribas' match-high of 20 kills to pace NJIT, posting a .417 hitting percentage while Adam Gustafson nearly tallied a double-double with nine kills and a contest-best 14 digs. Herman Kantushov added 11 kills and a .385 attacking clip, as Brady Smith and Kevin Van Oss chipped in 11 digs and four blocks, respectively.

NJIT got off to a hot start in the first set, opening an early 13-5 lead on a block by Van Oss and Zak Robben before pushing the margin to 20-9 on a solo stuff by Doug Battersby. The Bobcats would cut the lead to 24-17 with an 8-4 spurt before Jurko closed out the set with a kill to give the Highlanders an early 1-0 advantage in the match.

Lees-McRae carried the momentum into the second set, claiming a 12-7 lead on a Lucas kill before NJIT answered with a 9-5 run, cutting the margin to 17-16 on a smash by Van Oss. After the Highlanders evened the tally at 19-19 on a Bobcat miscue, Lees-McRae responded with four quick points to take a 23-19 lead before closing out the frame with a Ribas kill to square the match at 1-1.

The Highlanders answered in the third, taking a 14-11 lead on back-to-back kills by Van Oss and Robben before the Bobcats countered with a 7-3 spurt, claiming a narrow 18-17 advantage on a Ramirez smash. NJIT would respond with a 6-3 run of its own, taking a 23-21 lead before closing out the 25-22 third-set win on a block by Battersby and Gustafson.

NJIT carried the momentum into the fourth frame, claiming an early 9-5 advantage on a Bobcat miscue before pushing the margin to 19-14 on the heels of a 5-2 spurt. The Bobcats would cut the lead to 22-19 on a Ribas kill before the Highlanders answered with a 3-1 surge, closing out the set and the match on a Gustafson smash.

Lees-McRae returns to the court on Sunday when the Bobcats travel to Fairfield, Conn. to take on Sacred Heart University at 2 p.m.

- LMC -