St. Joseph’s (L.I.) men’s volleyball has been a program for only two years, and can now call itself Skyline Conference champions.
The top-seeded Golden Eagles soared to a 3-0 win over Mount Saint Vincent on Saturday, 25-14, 25-19, 25-21. With the victory, coach Bill Kropp’s team earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament which starts Friday.
Paul Curaro was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, with 11 kills, 10 digs and three service aces on the day.
“It feels great,” the sophomore said. “It’s definitely a team effort. It’s not just the starters, obviously, it’s also the backups who push us.”
Middle blocker Kyle Biggers said, “It feels pretty cool to do it so early. I feel like most teams have to keep doing it for so long and to do it in our second year was pretty awesome.”
But its first title did not come easy.
Setter Tyler Jones returned to the court after being sidelined for a couple of weeks after a car accident, Biggers said. Jones led the match with 36 assists.
Opposite hitter Matthew Amberge broke his and hand and after surgery returned to the lineup Saturday, just so he can play in the championship game.
Biggers said St. Joseph’s being a commuter school is the best part of the title. Every player is either from Long Island, with the exception from one player from Queens.
“You have all these teams that can recruit from anywhere, but with us it’s just from one specific spot,” he said. “I think that makes it so much cooler . . . We have a deep roster of kids that could fill spots, get the job done, face adversity and handle it well.”
Biggers recorded a .583 hitting percentage during the match with seven kills, and his .452 mark during the regular season led the Skyline conference.
The Golden Eagles (23-8 overall, 10-0 Skyline) will find out its next opponent on Monday, when the matchups for the tournament are revealed.
“I think our confidence level is pretty high up there,” Curaro said. “We’ve seen a majority of the top teams who are in the tournament right now that we know of. That will definitely help us. We’ve played a few of the teams a few times. We know what’s coming, we just have to figure it out and go from there.”