Kingsmen Top Wittenberg in Ohio
CLU takes on top competition at Wittenberg Tournament
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – After a trip to Arizona, the Cal Lutheran men’s volleyball team turned right around and hopped on a plane to Springfield, Ohio for full slate of matches at the Wittenberg Tournament this weekend.
DU def. CLU 3-1
In the first game of the tournament on Friday, the Kingsmen dropped a 3-1 decision to a talented Dominican (Ill.) team in a match that was much closer than the score indicated. CLU battled to the bitter end in the first set, falling 31-29, before edging the Stars 25-23 in the second set to even the score. Dominican, however, won a pivotal third set in extras once again, 27-25, and clinched the match with a 25-19 fourth set.
Kristian Gallardo and Patrick Rowe paced the Violet and Gold with 15 kills apiece while Mikey Esper also reached double-figures with 12. Gallardo notched a double-double by adding a game-high 15 digs and Nick Shoemate tallied a double-double of his own with 43 assists to go with 14 digs. Jamal Balkhi and Rowe also reached double-figure digs with 13 and 11, respectively. Justin Dietrich was a force at the net with five total blocks in the match.
CLU def. WU 3-1
The Kingsmen carried their strong play over into the next match and defeated host Wittenberg (Ohio) 3-1 after outhitting the Tigers .182 to .043. CLU came out hot with a .367 hitting percentage in the first set and rolled to a 25-16 win. Wittenberg bounced back behind a 25-22 second set win, but the Kingsmen persevered in a crucial third set, 25-21, before clinching the match with a 25-18 fourth set win.
Rowe had yet another big game for CLU with 16 kills to lead all players in the match and Gallardo tallied double-figures once again with 13. Balkhi had the game of a lifetime with a career-high 27 digs while Shoemate recorded 31 assists. Dietrich continued his presence at the net with seven total blocks to lead the Kingsmen.
MSOE def. CLU 3-0
In the first match on Saturday, and third overall in the tournament, the Kingsmen were swept by a Milwaukee School of Engineering team that is receiving votes in the AVCA Division III Top-15 Poll. In another close match despite the score, the Kingsmen fell in a competitive 26-24 first set that could have gone either way. MSOE continued to squeak past CLU with a 25-23 win in the second set and clinched the sweep with a 25-22 win in the third.
Rowe led the Kingsmen once again with nine kills while Gallardo was close behind with seven. Shoemate and Grant Nelson split the setting duties, dishing out 12 and 11, respectively. Nelson also logged a career-high with nine digs in the match and Balkhi finished with a team-high of 12. Dietrich and Michael Campbell tallied five total blocks apiece to lead the Kingsmen at the net.
MSJ def. CLU 3-0
In the final game of the Wittenberg Tournament, the Kingsmen fell 3-0 to Mount St. Joseph’s (Ohio). Despite outhitting the Lions .208 to .136 in the first set, the Kingsmen dropped the first set to MSJ 25-19. The Lions displayed their length with a total of 20 blocks at the net and defeated CLU 25-17 in the second and 25-19 in the third for the win.
Rowe and Gallardo continued to lead the Violet and Gold with eight kills apiece and Balkhi led the way with nine digs. Shoemate dished out 14 assists in the game and Campbell led the way with three blocks.
Cal Lutheran (3-12) returns home for a match against Clarke (Iowa) on Monday, Mar. 6 inside Gilbert Arena at 6:00 p.m.
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