HIRAM, Ohio – The Hiram College men's volleyball team put together a solid showing in front of their home crowd, earning a split of a pair of games on the final day of the Hiram Winter Invite on Saturday. The Terriers first dropped a five-set thriller to #13 Elmira, before taking down Medaille, 3-1.
The young Terrier squad has continued to show growth throughout their first season under head coach Kyle Mars. That has not been more evident that it was on Saturday, when the Terriers pushed Elmira College to the brink. The Soaring Eagles came into the match ranked #13 in the most recent American Volleyball Coaches' Association Top-15 poll.
Hiram captured the first two sets 25-23 and 25-16, before dropping the next three to fall by the 3-2 final.
The Terriers opened the match on an 8-4 run, getting four kills from Alex Andrzejewski and a pair from Cory Fischer. Andrzejewski would stay hot throughout the entirety of the set, registering seven kills in the first.
Hiram remained in control, but eventually found the score knotted at 19-19 late in the set. With the set still tied at 23-23, it was freshman Justin English who gave the Terriers a 24-23 advantage. A hitting error by the Eagles then gave Hiram the 25-23 victory in set one.
In the second set, kills by Fischer and English would once again help the Terriers blitz Elmira in the opening stage, pushing the Hiram lead to 6-2.
Elmira would close the gap to 10-9, before Hiram embarked on an 8-2 run to blow the set open (18-11). Andrzejewski tallied three more kills in the set as well as combining with Henry Schwendler for a block. The run would be enough to help the Terriers coast to the nine-point victory in set two.
The final point of the set came from Fischer, who tallied the service ace to give the Terriers the two-set lead.
Showing their experience, Elmira was undeterred, taking the third set by a 25-14 margin, before outlasting the Terriers 26-24 in the fourth.
Hiram showed resolve of their own in the fourth set. Trailing 22-17, a pair of blocks by Andrew Gard and Andrzejewski, as well as a Fischer kill and an ace from captain Jake Lininger, pulled the set even (22-22), giving the Terriers a chance at the match win.
The Soaring Eagles, however, tallied four of the last six points in the set, forcing a decisive game five.
Elmira jumped out to an 8-3 lead in the final stanza before the Terriers would once again respond. After switching sides of the court, Hiram used a 6-1 run to knot the set at 9-9. Brent Bierek would tally his first ace of the night to get the run started before Andrew Gard added a solo block to help force an Eagle timeout.
Out of the stoppage, Hiram was never able to secure a lead, playing from behind throughout the rest of the set. Four times, Hiram knotted the match, including at 14-14, before Elmira stole the set, 16-14, and the match.
Andrzejewski became the first Terrier in program history to eclipse 20 kills in a match, finishing with a hitting percentage of .395. Fischer, meanwhile, tallied his first-career double-double, totaling 13 kills and 12 digs.
Gard played a big role in the matchup, posting eight kills (.438 hitting percentage) while adding four blocks. Lininger tallied 27 assists.
In the second match of the afternoon, the Terriers were able to avenge a loss from earlier in the season, taking down Medaille, 3-1.
Leading 11-9 in the opening set, Hiram used an 8-1 swing to grab control. Gard posted a pair of kills in the run, which was also propelled by an ace and a kill from Fischer. Leading 19-10, the Terriers went on to take the set, 25-13.
Despite trailing 9-5 in the second frame, Hiram once again stacked an impressive run, outscoring the Mavericks 9-3 to take a two-point advantage (14-12). Fischer was once again the culprit, totaling three kills in the swing.
From that point on, the Terriers never again trailed in the set, taking a commanding 2-0 lead with a 25-22 set win.
After dropping set three 25-16, Hiram refused to repeat the earlier decision, taking care of business in set four.
With the set tied at 14-14, A pair of aces by Gard helped the Terriers go on a three-point run (17-14). Hiram would continue to hold the lead at 22-20 and finished the match off with three-straight points.
Following a service error by the Mavericks, Fischer made his final mark of the match, putting down a kill before ending the set with his second ace.
Offensively, Andrzejewski, Fischer and Gard once again led the way. Andrzejewski finished with a game-high 16 kills, while Fischer added 10 more to go along with a team-high eight digs. Gard tallied five kills and a trio of service aces, while Schwendler chipped in with four kills.
The victory for the Terriers marked not only their first home win in program history, but also their first triumph over a conference opponent.
Hiram will get back to work on Saturday, March 3, as they travel to Springfield, Ohio to compete in a tri-match with Fontbonne and Wittenberg. The Terriers are scheduled to play at 1 and 3 p.m.