Freshman Josh Elmore (Chester, Va./Matoaca) opened the night with a solo block, and R.J. Ocampo (Virginia Beach, Va./First Colonial) teamed up with Travis Abele (Mechanicsville, Va./Lee-Davis) to close it on another, as EMU's volleyball men upset No. 7 Nazareth Friday night in Union, N.J. It was a thrilling start to the 2017 Clash at Kean for Eastern Mennonite where the Royals play three nationally ranked teams in less than 24 hours.
EMU improves to 3-2 overall, including 3-0 against D-III opponents, as they earn one of the biggest wins in recent years. The men return to the court on Saturday, getting host Kean, ranked No. 10 in the nation, at 9:00am followed by No. 9 Vassar at 2:00pm.
Elmore got the Royals started on the right foot with a quick solo block and the men ran out to a 7-3 lead against Nazareth. The Golden Flyers got back within two points, but EMU kept on the gas and won the first set, 25-16.
Nazareth chiseled out a 5-1 lead in the second and made it stick with a 25-21 decision. The third had a similar story, with the Golden Flyers earning a 2-1 edge with another 25-21 score.
The fourth was full of wild swings in momentum. EMU had an early 5-0 streak, but Nazareth answered with a 10-3 surge to go up 16-11. The Royals didn't fold, however, scoring four in a row to make it game. The men got it tied at 17-17, but still trailed 21-19 late.
Elmore landed a kill, and Tim Callahan (Harrisburg, Va./Central Dauphin) and Dan Lutz (Greencastle, Pa./Greencastle-Antrim) made a block to lock it up again at 21-21. Callahan then put down a kill for EMU's first lead since 8-7, and the floodgates opened for three more points. The Royals scored six in a row to grab the set, 25-21, and force a deciding fifth set.
Eastern Mennonite scored the first three in the decider but the Golden Flyers had it tied by 5-5. The Royals pushed back up by three and still led 12-9 after a stuff by Lutz. Nazareth struck a 4-0 jab to grab their first lead of the set at 13-12, but a service error ended the run.
Callahan had a kill to give EMU match point, but Nazareth returned fire and tied it at 14-14. A quick kill out of the middle from Lutz put the Royals back at match point, and that's when Ocampo and Abele finished things off in the 16-14 thriller.
Both teams blocked and attacked well, but the difference came at the service line. The Golden Flyers made 20 service errors compared to 11 for EMU. William Ragland (North Chesterfield, Va./Thomas Dale) landed three service aces.
Callahan had 14 kills to lead the Royals' attack, with Elmore and Abele tied at 10 apiece. Lutz put down nine kills. Setter Christian Taylor (Richmond, Va./Deep Run) had 42 assists.
Defensively, Lutz racked up seven blocks, including one solo. Elmore got his hands on six, while Abele had three blocks and tied for the match high with eight digs.
Zachary Gillard led Nazareth with 14 kills and three service aces. Sam Bittker added 10 kills.