MVB: Exciting third set leads Colonels to extra-point victory


Kirsten Peters

Junior outside hitter Andrew Potter (9) led Wilkes’ second match of the night against Widener with 14.5 points and 12 kills.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Not only was it the first day of conference play for the Colonels, but Wilkes posted arguably their most exciting win of the season with a third set that went into extra points against Widener. 

Prior to defeating the Pride, Wilkes fell to Misericordia in straight sets, going 1-1 to start conference play.

Wilkes – 3, Widener – 0

After a competitive first two sets with scores of 25-22 and 25-17, the Widener Pride ramped up the competition in the third set with hopes to push the match to a fourth set. 

Widener began the third set with an 8-2 run that ultimately set the Pride up for a 23-17 point lead that left them tasting victory. 

However, Wilkes wasn’t willing to let the match go to a fourth set, as freshman opposite Randall Rykiel’s serving fueled a 7-0 comeback that forced the set into extra points. 

“Just heart — it came down to heart,” said head coach Joe Czopek. “These guys play with their hearts, and that’s all it was.”

The contenders traded points back and forth until the set was tied at 31 all. 

Junior outside hitter Andrew Potter recorded a kill to get the serve back. 

On Rykiel’s serve, freshman setter Zach Shay ended the late-night drama that had been taking place in the Marts Center. Shay put away an overpass kill, claiming the set and the match with a 33-31 victory for the Colonels. 

“It really came down to putting all our hearts out on the court and wanting the win more than the guys on the other side of the net,” said Shay. 

Shay’s match-winning kill came as a surprise to many, as he is the team’s leading assist getter. Thursday night’s contest was no different, as the freshman recorded 29 assists in the match. His 10 kills, however, eclipsed his previous career-high of four. 

“It feels great, especially as a freshman,” said Shay. “I just wanted to go after it.”

With the excitement heightened in the Marts Center, Colonel fans displayed their enthusiasm throughout the match. 

Wilkes battled back-and-forth with the Pride in the first set, with neither team taking more than a three-point edge. The set was tied at 20 all before a 6-2 run allowed the Colonels to come away with the set, 25-22.

The second set only increased the big-game feel that the players and fans had acquired. 

Wilkes led 14-11 halfway through the set, until Potter notched four kills to help the Colonels on an 8-2 run that ultimately left the set in their favor. 

“The energy was phenomenal,” said Potter of the noticeable fan-dynamic. “And, we all came together as a family.”

Potter led the match with 14.5 points and 12 kills. 

After losing the first match against Misericordia, shifting the momentum was part of Wilkes’ game plan. 

“We had our bench standing and cheering for the team, and it seemed to work in our favor,” reflected Czopek. “And if this works, then it’s worth it.”

Overall, the Colonels led in total kills, 39-32; led in assists, 38-29; and trailed in errors, 26-18.

Misericordia – 3, Wilkes – 0

Prior to the Colonels exciting extra-point victory over Widener, Wilkes fell to Misericordia in their first MAC conference match of the season. Contrary to their close sets with Widener, Wilkes’ sets with Misericordia were not as competitive (25-14, 25-16, 25-18). 

The conference rivalry was in effect against the Cougars, with tensions mounting on both sides of the net. 

“I think there was a lot of stress in that first game,” shared Potter. “It was our first conference game, and Misericorida has always been a big competitor against us.”

Momentum was not on the Colonels side from the first serve in this match, which stood out as a stark contrast from their matchup with Widener. 

“I think during that first game, the gym was dead,” said Potter. 

The silent gym, stands and Colonel bench left Wilkes with a sluggish start during their 4 p.m. contest. This sluggish approach would be too much for the Colonels to come back from. 

In the first set, the Cougars jumped out to an 18-7 lead, where Wilkes was left in the dust. The second set proved to be much of the same, with Misericordia taking an 11-4 lead and never allowing Wilkes to be on top. 

Despite the difficulties, the Colonels showed a bit of life in the third set. Wilkes managed an early 9-7 lead off of a 6-3 run in the set. However, this Colonel momentum was short-lived, as the Cougars responded with a 10-2 run that swept the Colonels. 

“We struggled in communicating on the court,” said Czopek. “And when the communication breaks down, then we play like we are not one full unit.”

Misericordia dominated the game’s stats, leading in kills 34-16, aces 10-0 and assists 33-14. With their victory, the Cougars improved to 11-6 overall and 2-0 in conference play. 

“We let the Misericordia dictate the tempo of the game,” said Shay, noting one of Wilkes’ downfalls in the contest. 

Wilkes currently sits at 9-7 on the season and 1-1 in the conference, leaving the opportunity for a playoff spot open. 

Going forward, the Colonels will be looking to start future games with the momentum that they had in their second contest against Widener. As Czopek noted, having a vocal bench could be a solution for the team. 

With contests against Eastern University, King’s College and Messiah College, the Colonels are entering an important stretch of their conference season. 

Before their three conference matchups, Wilkes will compete in a non-conference matchup on the road against Bard College at 6 p.m. tonight before taking on Eastern on Thursday evening at 7 p.m. in the Marts Center. 

Kirsten Peters
Freshman setter Zach Shay celebrated an unprecedented night in his career, recording 10 kills, including the match-winning kill in the third set against Widener.