Young Royals Still Looking For Breakthrough Win

Travis Abele led EMU in assists, digs and aces against Mount St. Joseph. (photo by Scott Eyre)
Travis Abele led EMU in assists, digs and aces against Mount St. Joseph. (photo by Scott Eyre)

EMU's volleyball men continue to improve, showing bright flashes against even nationally ranked teams. Despite the improved play, the Royals still were saddled with a pair of losses in Saturday's tri-match in Yoder Arena as they continue to look for a breakthrough win.

Eastern Mennonite (1-13) hits the road on Wednesday, playing a CVC date at Marymount on Wednesday. Start time is 7:00pm.

Mount St. Joseph 3, EMU 2
The Royals opened with a 4-0 run against Mount St. Joseph, but the Lions responded with a 5-0 run to take the lead. That wild back-and-forth continued all match. EMU used a 5-1 spurt to break open a 17-12 margin and never let the lead get below two en route to a 25-21 win in the opener.

A 9-1 run gave the Lions a big 10-4 lead early in the second, only to see EMU use a 9-2 run to jump ahead 17-15. Mount St. Joseph got the lead back with a 4-0 run before the men had it tied back up at 21-21. But MSJ's Ben Holt had three kills and an ace in a 4-1 finish, winning a 25-22 set for his team.

Mistakes cost the Royals early in the third, giving the visitors an 8-1 run for an 11-6 lead. EMU got within 15-13, but Mount St. Joseph closed on a 7-1 streak to win, 25-17.

After falling in an early hole in the fourth, Eastern Mennonite unleashed a 12-2 run. Travis Abele (Mechanicsville, Va./Lee-Davis) landed three aces during a streak of seven unanswered points as the men built a 16-9 cushion. EMU led by as many as nine, rolling to a 25-18 win to force a fifth set.

MSJ had a 3-0 run early in the fifth but a block from Abele and R.J. Ocampo (Virginia Beach, Va./First Colonial) locked the score at 6-6. Now looking at a race to nine points, the Lions rattled off six straight for a deflating 12-6 lead. The teams traded points from there, with the Lions clinching the finale, 15-8.

The Royals served and blocked well, gaining six aces against just two service errors, and making 13 blocks. Jacob Durren (Gloucester, Va./Gloucester) had seven kills and a .467 kill percentage while racking up nine blocks. The freshman not only led all players in the match, but he also set the high-water mark for any EMU player this season, topping his own high of six blocks against Elmira on Jan. 27. He also had two aces.

Sean Wright (Glen Allen, Va./Deep Run) had nine kills and ten digs, while Hunter Taylor (Ashland, Va./Patrick Henry) had nine kills and four blocks. Martin Pou (Harrisonburg, Va./Eastern Mennonite) continued his recent emergence with six kills and a career high five blocks. Abele did a bit of everything with 27 assists, 14 digs, six kills and three aces. Ocampo added four blocks. Drew Bennett (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks) racked up 13 digs.

Jason Hascher topped Mount St. Joseph with 12 kills and three blocks. Zack Storc had 10 kills and four aces.

No. 12 Lancaster Bible 3, EMU 0
The nationally ranked Chargers showed their firepower in the finale of the tri-match, out-hitting EMU .484 to .097.

The opener was never in doubt as Lancaster Bible rolled to a 25-8 decision. The Royals scored the first four in the second set and the teams traded leads much of the way. The men had their last lead at 15-14 before a crucial 4-0 run put LBC in front. EMU would get no closer than two in a 25-20 loss. Lancaster Bible methodically pulled away in the third set, winning 25-13.

Abele finished as the Royals' leader in kills and assists at seven and 12, respectively. Taylor landed five kills. Wyatt Bollinger (Harrisonburg, Va./Eastern Mennonite) had a pair of aces.

Nate Miller and Kole Horst each had nine kills to co-lead Lancaster Bible.