By Steven Merritt
POUGHKEEPSIE – The #1 Vassar College Men’s Volleyball won its 25th straight match in the 2023 NCAA Division III Men’s Volleyball Championship Quarterfinals on Saturday as the Brewers defeated #9 Southern Virginia 25-20, 19-25, 25-19, 25-17 to advance to the Final Four. Vassar will play in the National Semifinals for the fourth time in program history in Owings Mills, MD on Friday evening against #5 North Central.
Vassar opened up a 7-2 lead in the first set as freshman Tristan Christofferson buried a kill along with two blocks from sophomore Billy Fan and senior Gavin van Beveren. The two teams traded points throughout the midway point of the set as the Knights drew within 15-13 on a block from Jeremy Brown and Kyler Evans. Following a kill and a solo block from senior Andrew Kim to make it 17-14, the Knights cut the lead back to one after a winner from Christian Sheaffer. A kill from Fan along with a block from van Beveren and Fan put Vassar ahead 22-18 until Jayton Hall’s winner and a VC error trimmed the lead to two. A kill from senior Adam Gulick and an ace from Fan clinched the first set for the Brewers.
Southern Virginia took a 7-4 advantage in the second set on kills from McKay Walker, Hall and Brown along with an ace from Tyler Sheaffer. Vassar drew within one at 8-7 on a kill from A. Kim but the Knights answered with winners from C. Sheaffer and Kyler Evans to push the lead back to 15-11. The Brewers tied the set at 15 apiece after blocks from junior Jacob Kim, A. Kim and van Beveren but the Knights answered with four of the next five points to go ahead 20-16 on a kill from Brown. A double block from Kristo Bianchin and C. Sheaffer earned Southern Virginia the second set victory.
Vassar’s early 5-2 lead in the third set came from a kill from A. Kim and blocks from van Beveren, Christofferson and J. Kim. The Knights countered with four straight points to take a 6-5 lead on a Evans winner before the Brewers scored four of their own on kills from Fan and A. Kim. Vassar’s lead grew to 16-8 following two kills from Fan and two blocks from van Beveren. Southern Virginia trimmed the lead to 17-13 on an ace from Brown before three straight winners from A. Kim put Vassar ahead by seven. A kill from van Beveren along with blocks from Christofferson, Fan, A. Kim and junior Vaughn Ramsey took the third set victory for Vassar.
Two kills from Gulick and one from Christofferson put Vassar ahead 5-3 early before kills from Walker and Brown reduced the advantage at 9-7. The Brewers gradually increased its lead to 16-11 on a winner from Gulick before a triple block from C. Sheaffer, T. Sheaffer and Walker cut the lead to 17-14. Kills from Gulick and Christofferson along with a solo block from Gulick put Vassar at match point as A. Kim buried the match-sealing winner to send Vassar to the Final Four.
A. Kim finished the game with 20 kills, eight digs and three blocks along with Fan adding 10 kills, five blocks and nine digs. Gulick recorded eight kills and nine digs while van Beveren tallied three kills and eight blocks. J. Kim handed out a team-high 35 assists and added eight digs and two blocks along with senior Jorge Adames Reyes