UNION, N.J. (4/21/17) – The Kean University men's volleyball team will host the First Round of the 2017 NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Championship on Saturday at 4 p.m. against defending National Champion SUNY New Paltz inside Harwood Arena.
The Hawks are the No. 7 seed in the 10-team tournament, while Kean is No. 10. The winner of Saturday's match will take on second-seeded Vassar College in the NCAA Quarterfinals on April 28 at 5:30 p.m. in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Players to Watch
For the sixth-straight season, a Cougar was named the Skyline Conference Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player of the Skyline Championship. Junior outside hitter Jacob Kauffman won the regular-season Player of the Year award after earning All-America honors last season and leading the league in aces. He also paces the Cougars in kills and overall points by large margins.
Freshman setter Ian Capp was named the postseason's honoree after leading all players with nine aces and 70 assists over the two Skyline Conference Playoff matches. He added four kills on five swings and five blocks in the postseason.
Junior libero Nick Breslin leads the Cougars with 188 digs on the year, and junior middle Shayron Taylor paces the team with 75 total blocks, followed closely by fellow junior middle blocker Jared Warner with 74.
Kauffman and Warner were First-Team All-Skyline selections this season, while Taylor and freshman outside hitter Steven Zarzycki, who hit .360 in league play, were named to the Second-Team. Other impact players include junior libero Steve Schrank, freshman outside Dylan Flor, junior setter Kevin Barrow, sophomore opposite Nick Buseski and sophomore outside Nico Mercadante.
For the Hawks, senior middle blocker Steven Woessner was named a Preseason All-American by Off the Block. Woessner was named First-Team All-UVC this season and was selected as the National Middle Attacker of the Year by Springbak/Off the Block in 2016 as well as an AVCA First Team All-American last year. During his four seasons with New Paltz, Woessner was named to the All-UVC Second-Team twice and the First-Team twice.
Junior outside hitter Anthony Bonilla was named to the All-UVC Second Team this season. Bonilla is the son of assistant coach Tony Bonilla, who is a New Paltz Athletics Hall of Famer and former head coach of both the men's and women's volleyball programs.
Sophomore Bradley Schneider is a transfer from Medaille College, where he was named the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) Newcomer of the Year in 2016.
Freshman setter Matthew Grace was named Honorable Mention UVC as well as senior middle blocker Jake Roessler. Roessler led the Hawks in kills during the UVC Tournament, including a career-high 22 kills against Vassar in the semifinals. Grace distributed a career-best 56 assists in the finals against NYU.
How They Got Here
The Cougars will bring a record of 26-8 this season into the matchup against New Paltz and have won six-straight Skyline Conference Championships. Kean, a seventh-year varsity program, will be looking for its third NCAA Tournament victory in its sixth NCAA appearance. The Cougars are one of only two programs to have made the NCAA Championship in each of the six years it has existed.
Kean defeated the College of Mount Saint Vincent, 3-0, for its sixth straight Skyline Conference title and fourth straight perfect run through the league last weekend. The Cougars have won 76-consecutive Skyline matches dating to 2013. Kean has won its last 12 matches in a row; the last 10 of them have been sweeps, and the Cougars are unbeaten in 33 consecutive sets.
The Hawks received an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament after advancing to the UVC title match for the fourth straight year. New Paltz knocked off MIT in the quarterfinals before taking down host Vassar in the semifinals. Despite a hard-fought, five-set loss to NYU in the championship bout, the Hawks earned an NCAA bid for the fourth-consecutive season and will look to defend the National Title they earned last season.
Kean students will be admitted free. Admission will be $6 for the general public and $3 for other students, seniors and children. Tickets will be available at the Harwood Arena box office beginning at 3 p.m. on Saturday.