The volleyball men had a tough task at hand on Friday, needing a win at No. 4 Kean University to clinch a spot in next week's CVC Tournament. The Royals played well against Kean in the final two sets, but still took the loss in their final conference match of the year.
Now 19-11 overall and 8-5 in CVC play, Eastern Mennonite heads to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on Saturday to take on Baruch and Vassar in a tri-match at Vassar to wrap up the regular season. However, the men will likely have an eye on Buena Vista, Va., where Southern Virginia is hosting Kean in the final match of the CVC season.
The Royals need Kean to beat SVU (8-4 CVC) in order to secure the final spot in the six-team conference tourney. EMU holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Knights based on a sweep in the season series between the two. Despite having already clinched the top seed out of the CVC East, Kean (30-2/11-1 CVC) will still be pushing for a win in order to claim the overall top seed and the hosting rights to the semifinals and finals of the CVC Tournament.
The first round games will be on Tuesday, with the No. 2 seeds hosting the No. 3 seeds from their respective divisions. If Eastern Mennonite gets in, they would be the No. 3 seed in the West and head to Juniata College (9-4). Southern Virginia would host Juniata if the Knights pull off an upset of Kean on Saturday.
The Royals came out flat against Kean on the Cougars' Senior Recognition match, giving up four of the first five points. They got within 9-7 before melting to a 25-12 loss.
Set two was a much different story, with EMU using a 6-1 run to get in front, 13-11. The men held the advantage until 23-22, when the Cougars suddenly put down three straight points to steal a 25-23 score.
The third set was similar to the second as the Royals worked to a 19-17 edge. Kean then rattled off four straight to flip in front, 21-19, and they wouldn't let the men closer than one the rest of the way to another 25-23 finish.
EMU's outsides were solid, with William Ragland (North Chesterfield, Va./Thomas Dale) and Tim Callahan (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) each landing 10 kills. Christian Taylor (Richmond, Va./Deep Run) had 30 assists.
Defensively, Dan Lutz (Greencastle, Pa./Greencastle-Antrim) had a hand in four blocks. Travis Abele (Mechanicsville, Va./Lee-Davis) picked up a match high nine digs while Micah Buller (Richmond, Va./Douglas Freeman) added eight.
Jared Warner led Kean with 12 kills and six blocks.