What a difference a couple of hours makes.
EMU's volleyball men got off to an exciting start to the 2017 season Saturday afternoon, sweeping Southern Virginia for their first win. The Royals had lost earlier that morning to Emmanuel College to kick off a season-opening doubleheader.
Emmanuel 3, EMU 0
The men struggled to find their rhythm against the D-II Lions in a match which started at 10:00am. The Royals made short runs in each of the sets, but ending up letting Emmanuel answer with a run each time. The Lions won by scores of 25-21, 25-23 and 25-20.
Eastern Mennonite hurt themselves by committing 23 attack errors and hitting just .120 as a team. Josh Elmore (Chester, Va./Matoaca), Travis Abele (Mechanicsville, Va./Lee-Davis) and Tim Callahan (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) each had eight kills, while setter Christian Taylor (Richmond, Va./Deep Run) had 25 assists.
Aleksa Lakic led a balanced attack for Emmanuel with nine kills. Ackeem West had seven kills and seven blocks.
EMU 3, Southern Virginia 0
The Royals took advantage of the full break between matches and came out a different team. Even though Southern Virginia had knocked off Emmanuel in four the previous night in Buena Vista, the Royals were clearly the better team.
They served for the first seven points against SVU and never looked back in rolling to a 25-13 win in the opener.
Eastern Mennonite got the edge in the second set with an early 5-0 streak, going up 12-5. But the Knights scored the next four and eventually grabbed the lead at 23-22. The Royals stuck in two in a row to get back in front, but then needed five match points before Callahan and Dan Lutz (Greencastle, Pa./Greencastle-Antrim) closed out a 29-27 win with a double block.
The men then scored the first three points in the third set and added a pair of 4-0 jabs to build a 15-6 cushion. SVU would get within five at 21-16 before the Royals finished them off, getting the final point on a kill from Callahan.
Eastern Mennonite made a marked improvement in the match, hitting .230 and putting together 13 blocks.
Callahan led all players with 12 kills to go along with three blocks. Elmore repeated his solid performance from his first collegiate match and had another eight kills and three of his own blocks.
Lutz got his 6-8 frame on eight blocks, including a career best three solo stuffs. Ocampo had four blocks and six kills on just nine swings.
Taylor had 31 assists.
Flustered by EMU's defense, Southern Virginia hit just .019 as a team, led by Paul Clark's nine kills.
The Knights, in their first year as a varsity program, will join the Royals in the Continental Volleyball Conference next year. They are coached by Tom Peterson, who has coached two D-I teams to a national title: Penn State (1994) and BYU (2004).
Eastern Mennonite stays at home for another multi-match day next Saturday. They host D-II King University and Lancaster Bible College, playing at 3:00pm and 7:00pm.
Coach Ross Madden said his team got out of their own way against Southern Virginia: