The Roadrunners looked to win their first ever Skyline Championship on Sunday when they faced off against No. 1 Kean University to determine the 2016 Skyline Conference men’s volleyball champion. The Roadrunners lost in straight sets (18-25, 18-25, 11-25), and they have lost to Kean in the Championship Match for the third consecutive year, and for the fourth time in five years. Meanwhile, the Kean University Cougars won their fifth straight Skyline Conference Championship, and they have been the only conference champions that the Skyline Conference has known since its inaugural season back in 2012.
Junior captain Connor Brandow saw everything that went wrong in the championship match against Kean as mental errors.
“There were a lot of mental errors,” said Brandow. “If one or a couple of people made mistakes, it continued to get over their hump and continue to not build much for ourselves; we’re just giving them points.”
For the Roadrunners, sophomore Justin Feigeles led the way with six kills on 29 attempts to go with one service ace and six digs for seven points. Freshman Paul Close also recorded six kills. Additionally, Close tallied three assists, five digs and six and a half total points.
Fellow freshman Mikhael Erushalimski led the Roadrunners with 18 assists. Captains Brandow and Nick Amos collected four kills on 10 attempts in addition to two service aces and four digs for six and a half points, and two kills on four attempts to go with two digs for three points respectively. Freshman Jordan Elam recorded two kills on seven attempts with an additional dig for two points while sophomore Patrick Wixted led the team in digs with eight.
For the Cougars, sophomore Jacob Kauffman, who was named the Most Outstanding Player in the championship match, led the way with 10 kills on 23 attempts to go with four service aces for 16 points. Fellow sophomore Steve Schrank led the team with assists as he accounted for 24 of the Cougars’ 26 assists. Schrank also led the team in digs with eight.
The other two assists for the Cougars belonged to another fellow sophomore Nick Breslin.
Sophomore Shayron Taylor and senior Tommy Rosario combined for three blocks and seven kills on 18 attempts and two digs for 13.5 points. Sophomore Jared Warner recorded two service aces while fellow sophomore Bill Fischer tallied nine kills on 19 attempts in addition to five digs for 10 points. Sophomore Connor Evans collected four kills on 10 attempts with four digs for five points.
Amos found it very tough to stay healthy considering there are only nine players on the roster.
“Staying healthy was definitely a very important factor of the season with only two or three guys max on the bench,” said Amos.
Mental errors were very prevalent in the entire match for the Roadrunners as evidenced by their -0.260 hitting percentage, 24 attack errors and nine service errors. This was a big reason why the Roadrunners were outscored 50.5-27 in the points department. However, they achieved something, which is by nature very difficult to do, which was getting back to the Skyline Championship match despite carrying only nine players on the roster in 2016 compared to 14 players in 2015 as they wrap up the season with an overall record of 19-16 and a conference record of 14-2.