One of the best seasons in program history came to a close tonight as EMU's volleyball men lost to top-seeded Kean University in the semifinals of the CVC Tournament.
Eastern Mennonite finishes a great season with a record of 21-13, just one win shy of the program record for wins. The Royals had identical 22-11 marks both last year and in 2007.
Kean (32-2), also the No. 4 team in the AVCA national poll, takes a 26-match winning streak into Saturday's CVC Championship match on its home court in Union, N.J.
The first two sets had similar feels with the teams trading points early on until the Cougars took over with a run midway through. KU won the sets, 25-15 and 25-17.
Kean jumped to a 5-2 lead in the third before Eastern Mennonite caught fire. William Ragland (North Chesterfield, Va./Thomas Dale) hammered four kills during a 6-0 run as the Royals flipped ahead 8-5 and forced a timeout. After a Cougar point, the Royals rattled off another four in a row for a 12-6 margin.
The home team was unfazed, however, and used a 7-1 spurt to erase the deficit and tie the score at 14-14. Kean eventually jumped ahead 21-18, but EMU came right back with two straight. The men hung around until 23-22 when the Cougars got back-to-back kills to close the match, 25-22.
Eastern Mennonite slowed down KU's attack set-by-set, but the men were still out-hit .035 to .261. Ragland finished with nine kills while Tim Callahan (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) chipped in seven. Christian Taylor (Richmond, Va./Deep Run) had 22 set assists.
Defensively, Micah Buller (Richmond, Va./Douglas Freeman) led the team with 11 digs while Ragland and Travis Abele (Mechanicsville, Va./Lee-Davis) each had six. R.J. Ocampo (Virginia Beach, Va./First Colonial) made four block assists while Taylor and Dan Lutz (Greencastle, Pa./Greencastle-Antrim) each got their hands on three blocks.
Nick Buseski led Kean with 14 kills. Setter Ian Capp had 32 assists, 13 digs and five blocks.
After play, William Ragland was named to the CVC All-Tournament Team. Along with his nine against Kean, Ragland hammered a career high 27 kills in Tuesday's 3-2 quarterfinal win at Juniata. He averaged 4.5 kills per set and added 14 digs in EMU's two matches in the tournament.
The match was also the final for a significant group of seniors at EMU: Dan Lutz, William Ragland, Tim Callahan, Micah Buller and Colton Frey. The class leaves with an overall record of 69 wins and 46 losses, including the program's first two trips to the CVC Tournament.
Lutz, who was named to the CVC All-Conference Second Team earlier this week, leaves with 604 kills and is third all-time at EMU with 379 career blocks. Callahan's 931 career kills are a program best for the modern rally-scoring era and fifth all-time. Ragland transferred to EMU after one season at Carthage but still broke the program record with 118 career services aces and is top-10 with 821 career kills. He was also named All-Conference Second Team. Buller also earned a spot on the All-Conference Second Team while pulling in CVC Libero of the Year honors this year, and will graduate third all-time with 874 career digs. Frey played in 79 matches in his four years and collected 332 career digs.
All five of the seniors have been on the CVC All-Academic Team at least twice.