For the second time in as many days, EMU's volleyball men have upset a top 10 team. Saturday it was No. 9 Vassar, as the Royals came from behind to knock off the Brewers in five sets.
The win came as a fantastic closer to the attention-getting weekend, as Eastern Mennonite also upset No. 7 Nazareth Friday night at the 2017 Clash at Kean in Union, N.J. The Royals played three ranked teams at the weekend event, taking each to a full five sets and upsetting two of them. Only host Kean escaped with a win against the men.
EMU is now 4-3 on the year, including 4-1 against D-III competition, as they more than proved they can play with and beat the nation's top teams.
The men will now try to maintain their momentum despite a week-and-a-half-long break. Their next match isn't until Wednesday, Feb. 8, when the Royals host CVC preseason favorite Stevenson University in Harrisonburg,
No. 10 Kean, 3, EMU 2
The Cougars got the upperhand in Saturday's early match, taking the first sets by scores of 25-17 and 26-24.
Eastern Mennonite scored the first point in the third set and led most of the way. Tim Callahan (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) and Josh Elmore (Chester, Va./Matoaca) landed kills to finish off a 26-24 decision.
The fourth set was a dogfight, with each team holding small leads before going point-for-point all the way through the 20s. EMU fended off one match point at 25-24 before getting two kills and a service ace from William Ragland (North Chesterfield, Va./Thomas Dale) to win 27-25 and force a fifth set.
Eastern Mennonite scored the first three in the decider, and still led 8-5 after a kill from Elmore. But the Cougars scored three in a row to tie it up and kept riding the momentum to a 15-11 final, taking the match.
The Royals hit .262 as a team, but couldn't slow down a Kean team which hit 382.
EMU utilized their pin hitters, with Elmore leading the charge with 22 kills. Ragland put down 20 while Callahan added 18 kills and 12 digs. Setter Christian Taylor (Richmond, Va./Deep Run) put up 63 assists, a career high for the sophomore.
Kean's Jacob Kauffman led all players with 24 kills and a .538 attack percentage.
EMU 3, No. 9 Vassar 2
The Royals regrouped and returned to the court in the afternoon, quickly jumping on Vassar. The men used a 7-2 run to break off a 7-7 tie and never looked back in claiming the opener, 25-19.
But the Brewers slowly gained momentum in the second, winning 25-18, before dominating the third set, 25-13.
Eastern Mennonite methodically worked out a four-point margin in the fourth, only to watch Vassar tie things up at 12-12. The men returned fire quickly, however, using a 6-1 streak to go up 18-13. The Brewers wouldn't get closer than three points the rest of the way before a Lutz kill finished it off at 25-20, earning a fifth set for the third straight match.
Neither team led by more than two in the final set, which featured a whopping eight ties, the last being at 12-12. A Vassar service error opened the door for EMU and Callahan landed a kill to make it 14-12. After a service error from the Royals, VC returned the favor for the final point, with the men winning 15-13.
Eastern Mennonite hit just .137 as a team, their lowest total against a D-III opponent this year, but were happy to let Vassar make 25 service errors.
Elmore had a team best 18 kills in the match to with 11 digs and three blocks. Lutz was good for eight kills with no errors on just 13 swings, adding five blocks. Taylor put up 41 assists.
Buller led the Royals with 13 digs, a season high for him.
Matthew Knigge and Yoni Auerbach each had 11 kills for the Brewers, while George Diehl had eight blocks.
Taylor racked up 146 assists over the three matches, averaging 9.73 per set. He also had 15 digs.
After playing only in the back row against Nazareth on Friday, Ragland responded to all-around play against Kean with a career high 20 kills. The junior added 22 digs and five service aces over the weekend.