ALBANY – Junior Bailey Cecchi (Agawam, MA/Agawam) posted an unprecedented .909 hitting percentage to lead Sage past Southern Vermont 3-0 (25-12, 25-10. 25-11) Wednesday night.
The outside hitter's 10 kills on 11 total attempts gives the co-captain the best single-match hitting percentage (10-14 attempts) in all of Division III.
Cecchi scored a match-high 11 points followed by Tyler Schnaible (Ballston Lake, NY/Shenendehowa) with nine points on a career-high seven kills and two aces. Schnaible also led the Gators on defense with five digs. Casey Fitzpatrick (Haverhill, MA/Haverhill) recorded a match-high 20 assists while Zachary Karl (West Monroe, NY/Central Square) recorded a career-high five aces which ranks 17th in Division III three-set matches.
On the other side of the net, Te Hayward led the Mountaineers with 5.5 points on five kills and one block. Bryan Bernal recorded 10 assists and an ace.
After starting the first set 3-2 in favor of Sage (7-5), the Gators scored ten straight points led by Cecchi, Schnaible, Chris MacArthur (Ancram, NY/Taconic Hills), and Shane Wenz (Valatie, NY/Ichabod Crane). Southern Vermont (0-7) snapped the run with a small 3-0 run of their own to cut Sage's lead to 13-5. Both teams swapped points until Sage posted its largest lead on an attack error to go up 20-8. The Gators kept up the offense with a kill by Cecchi and a Schnaible ace before MacArthur score the final point to take the first set 25-12.
In the second set, Sage jumped out to a 13-3 lead on the backs of Cecchi, Karl, Jarod Martel (Albany, NY/Colonie Central) and Austin Laverty (Schenectady, NY/Mohonasen). Southern Vermont cut Sage's lead to 13-5 on kills by Marv Figaro and Hayward, but Sage went back up by ten (15-5 score) on an attack error and a Cecchi ace. Sage and Southern Vermont went back-and-forth until Sage went on a small 3-0 run to go up 22-10 on a Karl kill. The Gators took the set on a Schnaible kill (25-10 score) to go up 2-0.
The Gators jumped out to 12-5 lead in the third set. They built their lead to 24-9, their largest lead of the match with points from Fitzpatrick, Martel, Karl and Ryan Guyton (Lockport, NY/Lockport). The Gators scored their final point of the match on a kill from Drew Evans (Red Hook, NY/Pine Plains) to take the final set 25-11.
MacArthur's three kills move him into 7th in career kills. The senior's 345 kills put him past Kyle Ray (2010-13).
The Gators will have the weekend off before returning the play Feb. 23 at Vassar College. The first serve goes up a 7 p.m.