It was the battle of the Engineers of the Northeast versus the Titans of the Northwest as Stevens Institute of Technology clashed with North Central College for the 2023 DIII men’s volleyball national title.
After four sets, Stevens middle hitter Connor Feulner tipped the ball for the game-deciding kill at 25-22, lifting the Ducks to victory, 3-1.
Stevens last won the championship in 2015 and had twice since battled for its second ring, losing in the 2018 title game and the 2022 semifinals. Since head coach Dan Buehring took over the Stevens program in 2021, this is his first championship appearance.
The North Central Cardinals, were riding on a 17-game win streak — the longest in their program’s history — stepping into the national title game. At the beginning of their tournament run, the Cardinals also led their division in kills per set, 13.31.
Despite being down 2-1 to Benedictine in the first round, North Central rallied in the next two sets to advance to the second round (3-2), then handily defeated Carthage 3-1 to move on to the semifinals. Both North Central and Stevens swept their semifinal matches 3-0, eliminating Vassar and Messiah respectively.
In the national final, Stevens dominated the first set, hitting .308 and easily grabbing the dub, 25-15. North Central’s offense picked up in the second, led by outside hitter Jared Moser’s five kills. The Cardinals knotted the score 24-24 before two consecutive kills by Stevens’ Koby Sherman and Nathan Lancia propelled the Ducks to steal the second set.
Thanks to improvements on its service line, North Central shot out to a 12-point lead in the third, the largest margin of the entire match, and closed out the set winning 25-15.
With the song “Pump it Up” blasting through the speakers in the Owings Mills Gymnasium, both teams cranked up their offensive pressure, trading the lead throughout the entire fourth set. Though Cardinals Ben Williams and Mitchell Hester attempted to stuff him, Sherman carried the Ducks down the stretch, delivering three crucial kills to bring the score 23-22 in favor of Stevens. With an attack error made by Williams bumping the score to the match point, it was ultimately the depth of the Ducks that won them the national title.
🏐 DIII men’s volleyball championship history
Sherman headlined Stevens on the box score with 16.5 points and 16 kills, and Feulner also had a stellar game, putting up four block assists and…
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