In its first competition of the season, The Bowdoin Men's Volleyball Team escaped from Southern New Hampshire University with a 3-4 record in a two-day divisional tournament. After falling to a 1-3 record after the first day, the team rallied to a 2-1 record on the second day. The team next plays in a tournament at Boston University tomorrow.
Bowdoin opened the tournament with a dominating win over rival Colby. Dylan Masters '08 was on fire in the game, recording five spikes in the first game, an impressive feat for a first year making the team. The defense held strong in the first game as well, holding Colby under ten points in the first game. Starting libero Felix Jaeckal '08 made four digs in his first collegiate game.
The second game of the match was equally strong for Bowdoin. Junior co-captain Henry Brennan dominated play with an overpowering jump serve, scoring seven points in a row off his serve, including three aces. Fellow captain Phil Friedrich '06 led the team with six kills in the sweep of Colby.
Despite this impressive start, Bowdoin suffered three difficult losses to finish the first day of the tournament.
Bowdoin next faced the University of Maine at Orono. Lacking the nasty intensity of previous years, the Black Bears dropped the first game, only to rally in the second game and force a deciding third game.
Marco Brown '05 cut through the UMO defense with several well-placed hits to give Bowdoin an early lead in the third game. However, difficult serving from the Black Bears helped UMO overcome the early Bowdoin lead and win the game.
The match against the University of Vermont was disappointingly similar to the UMO match. Excellent setting and blocking led Bowdoin to a win in the first game against the Catamounts. Seniors Ben Needham and co-captain Matt Leach combined for 19 assists in the win. Ben Stranges '05 was on the receiving end of five of those assists and added three blocks as well, leading the team to a win.
However, after positioning themselves for a big match win, Bowdoin dropped the next two games to eventual weekend champion UVM. Excellent contributions from both Brennan and Brandon Parise '06 were not enough to offset Vermont's combination of hitting and blocking in the end, as Vermont overpowered a smaller Bowdoin team.
After three matches that day, Bowdoin showed their fatigue in the loss to Stonehill College. Leach and Friedrich combined on several kills to at least make the first game competitive.
However, after two disappointing losses and having played three matches that day, Bowdoin could not match the intensity and focus of the Stonehill squad and fell in two games.
Even after the disappointing first day, Brennan expressed optimism in the team's play. "While it was tough losing two very winnable matches to UMaine and Vermont, we played very competitively," he said.
Bowdoin opened the second day of matches with a two-game loss to Plymouth State University. Sophomore setter Jordan Krechmer played well in defeat, contributing four assists. First years Ryan Hart and Andrew DeBenedictis also contributed energy and enthusiasm with scrappy defensive play.
Despite their 1-4 record, the Polar Bears began to turn around the weekend in their match against the University of New England. Junior Ely Delman started the effort off, making two early kills and two blocks. However, UNE won the game.
In the second game, Bowdoin responded after falling behind early. Down by four points midway through the game, the Polar Bears rallied to force a third game with UNE. Bowdoin won the third game easily, thanks in large part to the serving of Brennan.
Imbued with confidence after the close win against UNE, the team came out banging against the host team, Southern New Hampshire University. Although SNHU played tough and scrappy, Bowdoin edged the Penmen in the first game, thanks largely to the promising play of sophomore Justin Strasburger. In the second game, Bowdoin overcame a late run by SNHU to sweep the hosts in the final game of the tournament.
The team's 3-4 record placed the team fourth, behind only Vermont, Plymouth State, and Stonehill. The team finished ahead of UNE, Maine and Colby.
Despite the 3-4 record in the divisional games, Leach remains optimistic about the team's future. "Considering this was the team's first opportunity to compete this year, I think we performed really well. The wins against UNE and SNHU to close out the tournament allowed us to leave the tournament on a good note and provide us with much-needed momentum as we head to interdivisionals," he said.
Next weekend, Bowdoin heads to Boston University to compete against teams from other divisions. The team will likely be scheduled against teams from the more difficult Division A.