Earlier this month, the Vassar College men's volleyball team, ranked third in the Bison/AVCA Men's Coaches Top 15 Poll and playing on its home court at Kenyon Hall for the first time in six games, knocked off a feisty Mount St. Vincent team in three sets. The NECVA Metro league match-up also pitted two Hicksville brothers against one another. Vassar senior Brian Bacchi went head-to-head with St. Vincent freshman Chris Bacchi. The elder brother's squad came out on top (30-19, 30-28 and 30-22) but had to first get through the determined Dolphins, who nearly took the second set.
The Brewers were in sound control in the first set, hitting .455 as a team and using the strength of their starting six to build a sizable lead. The Dolphins kept it close until the 12-9 mark, at which point Vassar reeled off a 9-4 run to lead 21-12.
In the second set, however, St. Vincent played like a different squad against the more experienced Brewers: there were nine ties throughout. The pace of the match picked up, and a number of the points stretched into long rallies. After a kill by Mount St. Vincent's David Guerrero of East Meadow broke open an 11-11 deadlock in the Dolphins' favor, the visitors held the lead up until the 25-25 mark. Vassar then closed out the game with a 5-3 run and carried that momentum into the third and final set, in which it never relinquished the lead.
Per usual, Vassar received standout play from senior captain John Kessenich, who was named the Sports Imports/AVCA Division III National Player of the Week. Kessenich filled the stats sheet with 19 assists, 7 digs, and 9 kills on a .750 hitting performance. Freshman setter Clifford Quinn also contributed a career-high 17 assists while sophomore Evan Fredericksen had a team-high 10 kills and senior Scott Leserman set the match-high in digs, with 18 in total.
For Mount St. Vincent, Guerrero tallied 13 kills and 7 digs. His teammates Justin Amaral and T.J. Pufahl of Bethpage finished with 7 kills apiece, and Chris Dotoratos set the match-high in assists, with 35.
Fittingly, the elder Bacchi started and ended the match for the Brewers, registering both the first and final kills of the evening. Still, the brothers said that they would remember the match not for the outcome but for the experience.
"It was fun," said Brian after the match. "Sure, we got to play together in high school, but never before against each other. We both played well tonight, and I think [Chris] passed much better than me. He's improved so much since high school."
Both Brian and Chris expected to play basketball in college, but turned to volleyball instead once they reached their respective schools. They are both graduates of Hicksville High School. Brian, a member of the Class of 2005, played varsity volleyball for two years and was All Conference and MVP in his senior year. Additionally, he was captain in his senior year. He has played at Vassar for four years and started for two years. Chris graduated Hicksville High School in 2008 and played varsity volleyball for four years, was All-Conference his junior year and All-County his senior year. He was also captain in his senior year. He is the starting libero at Mt. St. Vincent.
"I decided to play volleyball in college because of my brother," explained Chris. "It was weird at first, to be on the court with [Brian] but not playing with him. I'm glad we got to do it."
Their parents, Eileen and Gary, were in attendance as well, dressed in their boys' respective college T-shirts, split down the middle and sewn together. It was a family affair, but not without that usual brotherly competitive edge.
"The first point of the game I was really trying to hit it at him, but I didn't quite get it," said Brian. "Chris has a great few years ahead of him. He could be a better player than me by the time he's a senior for sure."