MVB: Colonels unexpected lineup change stifles win-streak

The men’s volleyball team looked to continue their win streak with a non-conference tri-match on Saturday afternoon in the Marts Center.

The Colonels were unable to continue their early-season success as they lost both games to SUNY Potsdam and Penn State Behrend.

In the first match of the day against SUNY Potsdam, Wilkes dominated the first set. After that, the offense seemed to stagnate and the Colonels were unable to pick apart the Bear’s defense as they lost 3-1.

Despite the loss, Wilkes competed hard for every point against a very talented team.

With a number of key contributors out for a multitude of reasons, a few players had to step into new roles to try and help the Colonels win.

One of these players was sophomore middle hitter Paul Binner who was asked to play setter on short notice.

Binner was doing it all for the Colonels in the first match as he finished with eight kills, two aces, and seven digs, all of which were team highs for Wilkes.

“So I have set in high school, and I have kind of been thrown around a little bit this season,” said Binner. “Coach asked me if I could get thrown in the game to be the setter. I felt pretty confident about it, and I’m glad I was able to help at least a little bit.” 

The second match against the Nittany Lions was much of the same. Wilkes struggled to handle the serves from Penn State Behrend.

Their passing was inconsistent which led to them struggling for the entirety of the match.

The Colonels were unable to get out of their funk which allowed Penn State Behrend to cruise to a 3-0 victory.

“I do not think it was them doing anything special,” said senior opposite hitter Everett Fritz. “I think it was just us struggling to pass, us struggling with serve/receive. Passing is something we really strive to work on, and we are getting better at it.”

Binner was not the only one to step up for the shorthanded Colonels.

Two first-year players in defensive specialists Jake Sheldon and outside hitter Cody Smith were asked to take on bigger responsibilities today in the second match, and both stepped up to the plate.

“I think we have a great bunch of players that are ready to go at any time,” said head coach Joseph Czopek. “We had a lot of guys that stepped up and played real nice games today. We are young, but we are developing.”

Wilkes hopes that the extended play for some of its players will be super beneficial as conference play is just around the corner.

The team has been successful early on in the year at full strength, and this tri-match could be beneficial in growing confidence for some of the younger players.

The Colonels hope to get back to their winning ways as they take on Messiah University in the MAC opener at 11 a.m. on Saturday in the Marts Center.

The Beacon / Ariel Reed
The Beacon / Ariel Reed