BENNINGTON -- Between two evenly matched teams, sometimes the difference comes down to experience.
Hosting Newbury on Thursday night, the Southern Vermont College men's volleyball team held tight leads late in all three sets but managed to win each one in a 3-0 sweep of the Nighthawks.
"SVC is a good team; very junior and senior heavy," said Newbury coach Clint Whelan. "They've played great all year. We're a young team, when it gets to 15 or 20, we [seem to] shut down. It's a learning experience for us but it's difficult to get over the hump."
SVC won the games 25-18, 25-20 and 25-20.
The Mountaineers had a positive hitting percentage in all three sets, including a .429 in Game 2 (12 kills in 21 attacks). Overall, SVC hit .333 while Newbury was only at .080.
In Game 1, neither team had a lead of bigger than four until the end. Midway through, with SVC ahead 15-14, three straight errors by the Nighthawks gave the Mountaineers an 18-14 lead. Newbury pulled with 21-18, but four straight points by SVC finished the set.
In Game 2, Newbury took the early advantage, but SVC tied it at 9-9 after one of the two aces in the match. Later on, Newbury took a 14-11 advantage, but the Mountaineers came back again to tie it at 15. From there, SVC took control to win 25-20.
"This group of guys are volleyball-savvy," said SVC coach Deon Jones. "They challenge themselves and play from behind sometimes, that was tonight. That's their style. I dont know want to take it away, they're comfortable playing that way but it's such a game of momentum, it can turn on you."
Newbury continued to hang around in the third set, taking a 15-14 lead midway through. But the Mountaineers' experience won out, as Anthony Barahona's kill (7 kills in 19 attacks) started a four-point run to end the match.
"Service errors are mental, it doesnt matter if [you are] a freshman [or] senior. You have to make the other team earn it, we missed too many and it kills the momentum," Whelan said.
Overall, SVC was led by Keven Walley, who had an impressive .600 hitting percentage (10 kills in 15 total attacks). Anthony Ayala was the set-up man for the Mountaineers with 34 assists and Scott Fitzgerald led defensively with six digs.
For the Nighthawks, Billy Stephen had 12 kills (in 20 attacks). Chi Yin Li had 16 assists as well.
Southern Vermont improves to 5-2 in the NECC, a solid third behind Endicott and Daniel Webster.
"We have spring break coming up and hopefully that doesn't kill our momentum," Jones said.