The Eastern Mennonite men's volleyball team split a tri-match hosted by Lasell College in Newton, Mass., on Saturday. The Royals had a tough five-set loss to MIT before rolling over Lasell.
EMU moves to 16-7 after the non-conference split. Six of their seven losses have come to teams either ranked or receiving votes in the AVCA national poll. The men, among national leaders in matches played in 2018, enjoy a little reprieve in their schedule, playing only one contest over the coming two weeks.
The Royals head to D-II Coker College next Thursday, playing a 7:00pm match in Hartsville, S.C. After that, Eastern Mennonite does not play again until their final home matches in a tri-match against Thiel and Messiah on March 17.
MIT 3, EMU 2
Facing yet another nationally regarded foe, the Royals locked up with MIT in an evenly played first set. The Engineers finished on a 5-2 run, however, taking the opener, 25-21.
The second and third sets belonged to Eastern Mennonite. Each time, the men got an early lead and expanded on it, leading by as many as eight points. Set scores were 25-19 and 25-18.
The fourth set had a similar start before MIT flipped in front with a 4-0 run midway through. Eastern Mennonite forged ties at 18-18, 19-19 and 20-20, but could not get in front. They eventually fell 25-23.
Set five was a classic with the teams trading leads. A kill and service ace pushed the Royals ahead 13-11, but MIT got a kill before Eastern Mennonite made three straight attack errors. The Engineers put blocks on the final two attacks, closing on a 4-0 run to win 15-13.
Travis Abele (Mechanicsville, Va./Lee-Davis) hit .289 dropped in 16 kills. William Ragland (North Chesterfield, Va./Thomas Dale) added 16 kills, 17 digs and three aces. Tim Callahan (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) had 12 kills and a team best 19 digs. Christian Taylor (Richmond, Va./Deep Run) made 56 set assists.
R.J. Ocampo (Virginia Beach, Va./First Colonial) had three blocks.
Skyler Kauffman led MIT with 16 kills and 7 blocks.
EMU 3, Lasell 0
The host Lasers led by as many as five early in the first set of the day's finale, before EMU roared back to tie the score at 18-18. Callahan had two kills during a 3-0 run which bumped the men in front, 24-22, but Lasell fought off two set points and eventually had once chance of their own at 27-26. Dan Lutz (Greencastle, Pa./Greencastle-Antrim) flushed down a kill, however, triggering a quick 3-0 knockout for a 29-27 win.
The momentum carried from there, as Eastern Mennonite used an early 5-0 run to grab control in the second. They won 25-19.
The Royals scored the first two points in the third set and never allowed Lasell to even tie the score. The men methodically expanded the cushion to run away with the clincher, 25-14.
EMU was unstoppable at the net, hitting a season high .484 as a team, landing 53 kills with only nine errors on 91 swings.
Three of the men's five main attackers hit .500 or better, including Ragland, who had 15 kills on 26 swings. He added four service aces, which also gave the senior the running record for EMU career aces. Ragland now has 108 aces, passing Matt Musselman's total of 106.
Lutz had no errors out of the middle, landing 14 kills on 22 swings for a .636 clip. Callahan also hit double figures with 10 kills. Taylor totaled 45 assists.
Micah Buller (Richmond, Va./Douglas Freeman) led all players with 12 digs.
Conor Leary-Watson had seven kills and was the only Laser with more than five.