posted 2012-04-07 16:03:09

Newcomb, Men’s Volleyball Continue to Roll

Hawks ride 17-game win streak into playoffs

Christian Davies

Staff Writer

The Hawks prepare to return serve. Photo courtesy of Hunter College Athletics.
After beginning the season 4-7, the Men’s Volleyball team has been on an absolute tear. With only one match left in the regular season, the Hawks have won 17 straight, including a 14-0 run through their CUNYAC schedule, two big wins over their nationally ranked rival Baruch, and the unbelievable accomplishment of having lost only two sets during the entire streak. In the last 53 sets, the Hawks are a combined 51-2, and as a result, have climbed all the way to number 11 in the Division Three national rankings.

But it wasn’t always easy.

“Man, this season we started out rough!” said senior Christopher Newcomb, who was recently named NCAA Division III player of the week to go with two consecutive CUNYAC/Con Edison Player of the Week awards. “We had a lot of tough matchups and we were just getting to know each other’s tendencies as players.”

Last year, the Hawks also had a slow start to their season, coming out of the gate 2-6 before turning things around and finishing 19-17.

“The turning point for all of us was the match we had against [nationally ranked] Springfield,” Newcomb said. “We played tough and gave them a run for their money. We lost in three sets but it was a very motivating match for us and since then we haven’t lost a game.”

Though the Hawks’ record-breaking season has been absolutely a team effort, Newcomb himself is having a standout senior year. Originally from Waimea, Hawaii, he has left everything on the court in the final weeks of his Hunter career. Through 28 matches, he is averaging 3.67 kills and 1.32 digs per set. In the past week alone, Newcomb had 81 kills on a .470 attacking percentage to go along with 13 blocks and two service aces.

Senior Christopher Newcomb. Photo courtesy of Hunter College Athletics.
Newcomb described his journey to New York as “very random.” First, he moved to Santa Barbara, California for college and to get used to life off the islands. “After my two years were over at Santa Barbara Community College,” he said, “I decided to head over to the Big Apple to see if I could hang here.” After getting in touch with Hunter volleyball coach Ray Bello, Newcomb soon became a Hawk.

It’s easy to wonder how different this season would have been if, instead of picking up the phone and calling Coach Bello, Newcomb called about 40 blocks south and had a conversation with Baruch coach Allison Stack. Although the Hawks are rich with talent from top to bottom this year, it’s impossible not to think of Newcomb as an x-factor. If he were wearing a Baruch Bearcats jersey, would it be Baruch riding a hot streak into the postseason? Lucky for Hunter, that’s not the case.

As Newcomb finishes up his Hawks career, he is excited about the future.

“When I graduate, I think I might have to travel around a bit more,” he said. “I’m definitely not going back to Hawaii to live just yet. I’m still young and I’ve been stuck on a small rock for so long that all I want to do is see what the world has to offer me.”

But before he goes anywhere, there is still plenty of business to finish on the volleyball court. Regardless of what happens from here, the Hawks have put together a special season that all the players and coaches will remember forever. Of course, that won’t keep them from stepping it up over the next month.

The Hawks know they have to put their winning streak behind them and start fresh heading into the postseason. When the CUNYAC Tournament starts on April 10, Hunter will have to maintain their focus and concentrate on one game at a time. And when the NCAA tournament starts in the last week of April, that focus will need to be even sharper.

“From the way that we’re playing together and the momentum that we have, we’re not going to be happy with just winning CUNY,” Newcomb said. “I believe that we can go a lot further in the Division Three Tournament.”

With the way the Hawks are playing, there is little to make anyone doubt him about that.