Roundup: as semester begins, VC winter sports wind down

The beginning of the spring semester is a peculiar time, not only for seniors awash in the existential angst of impending graduation but also for followers of Division III collegiate sports.

Even though most Vassar students only recently returned to campus, some teams (basketball, squash, fencing and swimming & diving) are nearing the end of their regular seasons. Meanwhile, men’s volleyball just kicked off their campaign, and, despite the winter weather, tennis is just a few days away from the start of their spring season.

This stretch of the athletic calendar is tough to get a feel for, kind of like the passing of time is for those seniors awash in the existential angst of impending graduation. But don’t worry folks, I am here. No, not to solve seniors’ existential angst of impending graduation, but to update you on the latest news for VC teams.

Women’s basketball

Will the streak ever end?! Coach Candace Signor-Brown’s team hasn’t lost since Nov. 30. Their 16-game winning streak has vaulted the Brewers to 19-2 overall, 13-1 in conference, good enough for first in the Liberty League, though not yet attracting enough votes to jump in the DIII top 25. The Brewers haven’t just been winning games, they’ve been dominating them. The team averaging wins by greater than a 12-point margin. Junior wing Jackie Cenan junior forward Sophie Nick lead the team in scoring, each at 15.1 points per game, while junior Isa Pezcuh puts up 12.3 a game and sophomore Ryan DeOrio tacks on 10.1. Nick also leads the team in rebounding, at over nine a game.

The red-hot Brewers will hit the road to face two Liberty League opponents this weekend: Rochester Institute of Technology and Rensselaer Polytechnic Insitute. The following weekend, they’ll close out the regular season with home games versus William Smith and Ithaca, the latter being the only Liberty League side to defeat the Brewers this season. Come Liberty League Tournament time, expect Vassar to be hosting. One of the big questions is whether they’ve done enough to earn an atlarge bid, should they not win the League.

Men’s basketball

Under the leadership of new head coach Ryan Mee, the men’s basketball team has won just two of their last six games. They sit at 9-12 overall, 5-9 in conference. Senior guard Alex Seff has been a bright spot, leading the way for the Brewers at 15.6 points per game. Senior Paul Grinde and sophomore Zach Bromfeld (averaging 14 and 11.3 points per game, respectively) can be a dominant tandem in the paint for the Brewers.

But the team is perhaps too reliant on Seff as a perimeter playmaker and shot getter; he’s averaging nearly twice as many field goal attempts as any other guard on the team and nearly twice as many made three-pointers as any other player. Mee’s squad will travel with the women’s team to face RPI and RIT this weekend.

Men’s volleyball

The men’s volleyball team nearly made a weekend pilgrimage to the birthplace of volleyball, Holyoke, MA, but instead traveled to neighboring Springfield, MA to play in the International Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic. On Friday, Feb. 1, the Brewers narrowly held off an NYU comeback, winning the fifth set 16-14. Sophomore Jefferson Waters paced the Brewers with 18 kills.

On Saturday, Vassar took on defending national champion and host Springfield College. After a 25-10 first-set thumping, Vassar won an exhilarating second set, 2826. But top-ranked Springfield regained control to close out the final two sets. There are probably no “good” losses, but if there were, then this would be one of them. For the Brewers, senior George Diehl led the way with 11 kills, while sophomore Kevin Ros and first-year Jake Kaplan racked up 10 a piece. Vassar now sits at 4-2 on the season.

Women’s squash

The Brewers in cages with racquets sit at 8-10, after the Liberty League Championships last weekend in which the team fell to Saint Lawrence and William Smith before squashing Bard in squash, 9-0. Senior Julia Pollak, usually playing at the third position, has won 10 of 15 matches this year to lead the Brewers. Vassar travels to the Seven Sisters Championship in South Hadley, MA this weekend. The following weekend’s CSA nationals in Hartford, CT is the season’s final event.

Men’s squash

The men’s squash team fell to No. 4 University of Rochester, No. 11 Saint Lawrence, Hobart and Bard in the Liberty League Championships in Canton, NY last weekend. The team’s record now stands at 3-13. They’ll play this coming weekend in Hamilton, NY at the Colgate Round Robin, and then ultimately close out their season the following weekend at the CSA Nationals in New Haven, CT.

Men’s swimming & diving

The men’s swimming and diving team has lost its last three dual meets, taking them to 3-5 on the season.In their last competition, however, the Sprint Invitational at Skidmore College, the team listened to the directive in the meet’s name, taking first place with 495 points. Impressive 1-23 showings in both butterfly events helped the Brewer cause. Sophomore standout Max White took first in the 100 fly and the 100 freestyle. First-year Anthony Tobin earned the Brewers first-place points in 1-meter and 3-meter diving. Vassar won’t compete again until the Liberty League Championships in Ithaca, NY, which begin on Feb. 20.

Women’s swimming & diving

Like the men’s team, the women’s swimming and diving team (6-2 in dual meet competition this season) won the Skidmore Sprint Invitational meet. The Brewers dominated the individual events, taking first in 10 of 14. First-year Jesse Ecklund stole the headlines: she set pool records in both the 100 backstroke and 50 backstroke, as well as winning the 500 yard freestyle and swimming the first leg of the winning 200 medley.

Sophomore Brynn Lautenbacher also tore up the pool, winning all four of her events: the 50 fly and 100 fly, the 100 individual medley and the 200 freestyle relay. Senior Hayley Schultz also won two individual events, the 50 and 100 yard breaststrokes. The Vassar women will now set their sights on the Liberty League Championships as well.

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