By Gage Nutter
Despite exciting third and fourth sets that came down to the wire, Stevens Tech (31-5) defeated Dominican (26-3), 3-1 on Friday to advance to the NCAA Division III National Championship tournament semifinals where they will take on Springfield College.
“This [win] really feels great,” said Stevens head coach Patrick Dorywalski. “We played [Dominican] earlier in the season and we had some illnesses on that trip and we didn’t play very well at all. Obviously the win [today] makes up for that big time. It was much important to win this one today than the one back there, so we are really happy about that.”
Stevens’ Gabe Shankweiler finished the contest with 13 kills. The senior outside hitter has been on the national stage before in his four years with the Ducks. With this experience in his backpocket, Shankweiler has tried to convey a certain message to his fellow teammates throughout the season.
“I have tried to tell the team this year that we are going to be in some tough money time situations and during those times you’ve got to rely on your experience, and that we have to trust each other in those situations.”
As previously mentioned, the Ducks will now take on Springfield in the semifinals. Dorywalski did not go into a detailed game plan for the matchup, but to him, the gameplan is simple.
“The basic plan is to win,” Dorywalski said. “We watched [Springfield’s] first match [against Hunter], but we will sit down tonight and do a lot of video analyzing. We will be going through all the video that is available to us not only as a team but position video as well.”
Dominican head coach Daniel Ames believes that the final result was reached because of self inflicted wounds.
“It’s less about what they did but more about what we didn’t do well enough,” Ames said. “We have been a team where defense has created offense. They were the better defensive team today and it showed on the court.”
Dominican will graduate twelve student-athletes this spring, and Ames could not be more proud of what they have done during their time with the program.
“I don’t know whether it’s been done, but i find it hard to imagine that there has ever been a team that has made the NCAA tournament within their first four years, and I don’t know if it will ever happen again,” Ames said. “We have twelve guys graduating and something I can say that I’m lucky and proud of is it’s not just volleyball. The things they have done off the court, in the classroom and for our program is just as important.”