The Emerson men's volleyball team swept Lesley College for the second time this season on March 18, bringing their win total to four. Though the Lions won the match soundly, the team suffered through slow starts in all three sets.
Every win is especially important for the new program. The first match was a close one, but Emerson eventually won 30-24. After a flat start, filled with unforced errors, Emerson regrouped and systematically put Lesley away.
Three Emerson players were in double figures for kills, an attack that results in an immediate point or side out. Freshman captain Steven Selnick led Emerson with 14 kills while freshman setter Jeff Ackerstein and Evan Ong chipped in with 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Sophomore Dean Dimitruk also added 33 assists in the victory.
Head Coach Craig Letourneau praised his players.
"Jeff is our most consistent hitter, and Dean has been great at spreading the ball around," he said. "Evan is simply a smart player."
Two keys to Emerson's victory were the team's confidence and energy. When the team is relaxed and confident they play better, Dimitruk said. However, this time, the Lions came out a little too relaxed for their liking.
"Honestly, our second game is usually our down game," Letourneau said. "But this time, the first game was slow and I can't really explain why. In the first game we were just a step behind."
Dimitruk said he thought the team may have been un-focused going into the match based on their previous sweep.
"We had played and beaten Lesley before," said the film production major. "I think it's good to be relaxed and remain calm, but I think we were a little too relaxed. We started off neck and neck with them, and we knew we are way better than that."
In an early time out Coach Letourneau expressed his disapproval at the slow start: "You guys look like you're playing in mud," he told his team.
Dimitruk agreed with his coach's assessment, saying the mistakes the team made early in the set were due to a lack of drive.
"We started out flat, and on top of that we had tons and tons of errors in game play as well as on our serves," Dimitruk said that. "Then we picked up our energy and really forced Lesley to try and beat us instead of beating ourselves."
Emerson came to life at the end of the first set, continuing its momentum into the second.
"I think they knew what was going on, it just took them more time to get into the flow of the game," Letorneau said. "The second game, I think they focused on being on the balls of their feet."
The Lions led much of the match by doubling up on their opponents' score. But late in the set, Lesley cut the deficit to 17-10. Then Emerson redoubled its efforts and finished the set, leading 30-20.
"In our second game, we realized we had to play stronger, and play as if we were playing Rivier," said setter Jeff Ackerstein. We were comfortable with each other so we ran interesting plays and started to hit and cover well."
The third match was as intense as the last two. Lesley briefly tied the game at 5-5, but then Emerson took and extended the lead to 12-5 before Lesley scored again. Lesley threatened to take the lead again a few times, going on a couple of runs but the Lions continued their winning ways, taking the set 30-25.
Regardless of how sloppy the starts were, Dimitruk said he's simply happy with some good results.
"Most of this season, we found ourselves on the wrong side of a 3-0 game, but it felt great to be on the right side this time around," he said. "This will only build our confidence as we move forward."