Red Flash Men’s Volleyball Defeats Merrimack in Straight Sets, Completes Weekend Sweep


The Saint Francis men’s volleyball team handled its business at home this weekend, improving its Northeast Conference record to 3-1 with straight-set 3-0 victories over Sacred Heart (Feb. 24) and Merrimack (Feb. 25).

On Saturday night at DeGol Arena, the young and talented – but inexperienced – Merrimack Warriors (6-7, 1-3 NEC) came out red-hot against the Red Flash (4-9, 3-1 NEC), building an 18-16 lead late in the first set.

SFU senior middle blocker Thomas Leahey then decided to take the game into his own hands.

Leahey delivered nine serves in a row to flip the script in the first set and give his team momentum to open the second.

“Tom’s run at the end of the first set definitely gave us the momentum we needed for the rest of the game,” said SFU head coach Mike Rumbaugh, whose team was selected as the favorite to win the NEC in preseason voting by the league’s coaches.

After the Flash took the first set, there was no looking back for the home team against Merrimack, a first-year program in the NEC.

Red Flash outside hitters Blake Liprando and Trevor Lewis proved to be too much for the Warriors. The two combined for 16 kills on 28 swings to give the Red Flash all the offense they needed.

Although Saint Francis completed the weekend 2-0 without dropping a set to either the Pioneers or the Warriors, Rumbaugh said there is plenty of room for improvement.

“We are still not playing as clean as we need to play,” said Rumbaugh, now in his 25th season as head coach at SFU.

“I’m glad it feels good for the guys, but there are still little things that we need to fix.”

Leahey’s three aces notwithstanding, the Red Flash committed 17 service errors during the match against Merrimack.

“Service errors were a big thing,” said Rumbaugh. “We can’t be giving away free points to the other team.”

The Red Flash have a much-needed break next week after a grueling early-season schedule that included trips to Stanford and Hawaii and seven straight away matches to open 2023.

SFU will host Fairleigh Dickinson and Saint Francis-Brooklyn on March 10 and 11.