EMU's volleyball men stepped out of the non-scholarship world Thursday night, playing a match at Coker College in Hartsville, S.C. The NCAA D-II Cobras kept the men off-balance all night with tough serving, taking a 3-1 decision from the Royals.
Eastern Mennonite, now 16-8, gets a prolonged break before their next matches on Saturday, March 17. In their final home contests of the year, the Royals host CVC-rival Thiel and newcomer Messiah College. Messiah is in their first year as a varsity program.
The first match on March 17 starts at 2:00pm. Senior recognition ceremonies will precede the 6:00pm match against the Falcons.
Play against Coker (8-7) started out ominously enough, with an EMU attack error followed by a Cobra service ace. The Royals used a 5-1 run to whittle a five-point deficit down to one, but Coker followed with five straight points to rebuild some space. The home team won the opener, 25-19.
Coker landed three aces during an early 6-0 run in the second and never looked back in a 25-15 decision.
EMU fell into a 10-4 pit in the third, but didn't give up. An 11-5 streak tied the score at 15-15, and later Dan Lutz (Greencastle, Pa./Greencastle-Antrim) and William Ragland (North Chesterfield, Va./Thomas Dale) combined for a block to cap a 5-0 run for a 22-17 lead. The Cobras got within two before Tim Callahan (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) landed the set-winning kill, 25-22.
The Royals had the early edge in the fourth, but Coker used a 7-1 run to get in front 14-9. The men would get no closer than two points before losing, 25-20.
Eastern Mennonite was the stronger defensive team, getting eight blocks compared to four for Coker. But Cobras made the difference in serving, landing 13 aces against just 14 errors, flustering EMU's attack to a .170 percentage. EMU, meanwhile, connected on just three aces and Coker responded with a solid .228 attack percentage.
Ragland put down 13 kills on 25 swings and added eight digs. Callahan was also in double figures with 10 kills. Setter Christian Taylor (Richmond, Va./Deep Run) had 36 assists.
Micah Buller (Richmond, Va./Douglas Freeman) led all players with 14 digs while Travis Abele (Mechanicsville, Va./Lee-Davis) added 13. Lutz got in on four blocks, while Abele and R.J. Ocampo (Virginia Beach, Va./First Colonial) each had three.
Joao Victor Santos led Coker's three-headed attack with 21 kills. Stephen Porras had 13 kills and six aces.