Royals Start 2020 Season With Solid Win

Drew Bennett showed noticeable growth from his freshman season. (photo by Scott Eyre)
Drew Bennett showed noticeable growth from his freshman season. (photo by Scott Eyre)

After dropping the first set to visiting St. Andrews, the Eastern Mennonite University men's volleyball team took over for a 3-1 season-opening win on Sunday.

Earning a win over a team that went to the NAIA National Tournament last spring was a fantastic start to the year for the young Royals team. EMU will look to continue their momentum next Saturday in a tri-match in Cincinnati, playing Mount St. Joseph and Medaille.

St. Andrews (1-2), playing a match for the third straight day, looked more comfortable on the floor in the opening set, sprinting to a 5-1 lead and rolling to a 25-19 win.

EMU gained some momentum with a run late in the first and it carried into the second set where they landed kills for the first three points. St. Andrews tied the score at 5-5, but the men scored the next three and they held a small edge the rest of the way. Jacob Durren (Gloucester, Va./Gloucester) landed the final kill for a 25-23 win.

The important third set featured seven ties and four lead changes, but all came early. Trailing 11-8, the Royals called a timeout and quickly turned things around. Freshman Ben Childers (Chesterfield, Va./Matoaca) had three kills during a 7-0 run that flipped EMU in front, 15-11. SAU got within a single point five different times after that, but the Royals held them off every time. Childers fittingly landed the clinching kill for a 25-22 win.

The men then broke open a close fourth set with 4-0 and 5-0 runs, pushing a 17-10 lead. St. Andrews scraped within 21-20 before the Royals finished them off. Durren earned the final two points with a kill and solo block for a 25-22 win.

EMU out-hit St. Andrews .185 to .114, including impressive numbers of .364 in the third set and .345 in the fourth. Childers and Josh White (Chesapeake, Va./Bishop Sullivan) each landed 11 kills. Drew Bennett (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks) put down 10 kills with 12 assists. Wyatt Bollinger (Harrisonburg, Va./Eastern Mennonite) set up 26 assists.

Defensively, Durren had five blocks, including two solo. Martin Pou (Harrisonburg, Va./Eastern Mennonite) added four blocks. Freshman libero Jack Corl (Glen Allen, Va./Deep Run) led all players with 12 digs.

Jacob DeSouza led the Knights with 15 kills, 10 digs and four blocks.