By Monica D’Ippolito
GLENDALE, WI — The State University of New York at New Paltz concluded its Midwest trip with a pair of victories Saturday at Milwaukee School of Engineering.
The Hawks (5-1 overall) started the day with a quick 3-0 sweep of Augustana, 25-13, 25-20, 25-9, before defeating the hosting Raiders in four, 25-20, 26-24, 21-25, 25-19.
SUNY New Paltz not only hit a season-high .544 against the Vikings Saturday, but had their most efficient hitting performance since the 2019 season when it tallied a .550 clip against Northern Vermont-Johnson. The Hawks registered 32 kills on 57 attempts with just one hitting error with Brendan Spulnick leading the way with 10 kills, followed by Krish Jain (8) and AJ Fitzgerald (5).
On the other side of the net, Augustana, hit just .042 in the match with 19 errors as SUNY New Paltz recorded a season-high 12 blocks. Kyle Shaffer led the way with five, followed by Mike Handell (4) and Pat Wing (3). Shaffer also added 22 assists to lead the way for his team, while totaling four kills, an ace and six digs.
After a rout over the Vikings, the Hawks took on MSOE which had just defeated Augustana in four to open up their season earlier in the day. It was a tighter match in the bookend of the doubleheader, as the Raiders kept the first set close, getting within two at 22-20 following two straight points. SUNY New Paltz closed out the 1-0 lead though after back-to-back kills by Evan Kane pushed to set point with the Raiders helping out the Hawks with a hitting error to end the set.
MSOE led by four deep in the second set, threatening to tie the match. A 3-0 run helped SUNY New Paltz back in to cut the score to 16-17. Consecutive swings by Kane and John Ronan knotted the match at 18, but the Raiders answered with two-straight points that helped them get to set point at 24-22. A service error kept the Hawks alive, and they capitalized with four-straight points on back-to-back kills by Brendan Spulnick with the second closing on a setting error from MSOE.
The Raiders were up early at 12-7 to begin the fourth set. Kane ignited a 4-0 run with a kill that followed with an ace by Adam Brawn, another kill by Kane and a kill by Jain to bring the difference to one. SUNY New Paltz continued to trail and got as close as three at 20-23 following back-to-back kills by Spulnick, but the Raiders put the lid on the third set, scoring two of the last three points to force another period of play.
A 6-1 run midway through the fourth created a 15-10 cushion for the Hawks, which they used down the stretch to put an end to the match. Kane got his team to match point, putting away a kill on an assist by Shaffer with the latter going back to the former to seal the 3-1 win.
Kane posted a career-high 17 kills, while hitting .419 in the match to propel his team to victory, while adding eight digs and a block. Spulnick followed with 14 kills with two assists, an ace and nine digs. Ronan followed with 1- kills, hitting .500 with an assist, a block and a dig, while Shaffer totaled 42 assists with a kill, an ace, a block and six digs.
The Hawks return home to New York, but their schedule doesn’t get any easier as they face an early season matchup against No. 2 Springfield on the road Feb. 1.