Nighthawks Drop Season Opener to Leopards, 3-0

Photo Credit: Katie Collins
Photo Credit: Katie Collins

BROOKLINE, Mass. - Leopards sophomore Ryan Love (Gaithersburg, Md.) finished with a match-high 10 kills, hitting .308 on the night, leading the Wentworth Institute of Technology to a 3-0 (25-12, 25-18, 25-20) victory over the Newbury Nighthawks on Thursday evening in the season opener for Newbury.

Love also finished with three aces for Wentworth. Leopards sophomore Xhuljo Zyba (Holbrook, Mass.) finished with seven kills while freshman Garrett Vermeulen (Fairport, N.Y.) added five kills and a match-high 11 digs.

Nighthawks freshman Trevor Thorne (Oxford, Conn.) finished with a team-high five kills and added seven digs. Sophomore Oscar Chavez (Independence, Ore.) finished with four kills while freshmen Rory Dobbins (Riverside, R.I.) and Michael Weston (West Greenwich, R.I.) contributed three kills and two kills, respectively, as well as one solo block each.

The Leopards were off and running early with an 8-2 run to open the match. The Leopards finished the opening set hitting .368, cruising to a 25-12 first set win. Love had five kills on eight attempts to hit .625.

In the second, the Nighthawks held a four-point lead in the early going, 12-8 against the No. 8 team in the nation. Coming out of a timeout, Love and Zyba combined for three consecutive points, cutting the Nighthawks lead to 12-11. Nine of the next 13 points went to the Leopards, who controlled the set to a 21-16 lead. The Nighthawks combined for the next two points, but Wentworth closed the door with four in a row, capped by back-to-back aces by Love to take set two 25-18.

In the final set, Wentworth was off to a 5-1 advantage but the Nighthawks wouldn't quit as they clawed back to an eventual 15-15 tie and even taking the lead at one point 17-16 on a Thorne kill. However, the Leopards would respond, relying on Vermeulen in the late portions of the set, overtaking the lead and eventually sweeping the Nighthawks with a 25-20 third set win.

The Leopards improve to 4-1 on the young season while the Nighthawks go to 0-1. 

Newbury travels to Emmanuel for a tri-match on Saturday, starting at noon, while the Leopards host No. 10 New York University on Saturday at 2:00 p.m.