Kingsmen Top Redhawks on First Day of Cal Lu Fornia Invitational
CLU goes 1-1 on day one of competition
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – On the first day of the Second Annual Cal Lu Fornia Invitational, the Cal Lutheran men’s volleyball team split the competition, defeating Benedictine-Mesa (Ariz.) in a five-set thriller 3-2 (25-12, 16-25, 25-17, 23-25, 15-12) before falling to No. 10 Wentworth 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-23) inside Gilbert Arena.
CLU def. BU 3-2
The Kingsmen started the first match of the weekend on a strong note, hitting a blistering .478 in the first set while putting the Redhawks away 25-12. With the score 7-5 early on, the Violet and Gold strung together 12 straight points with Kristian Gallardo behind the service line. Gallardo was a force to be reckoned with all match, tallying four service aces, including three in the first set alone.
BenU battled back in the second set to settle the score, outhitting CLU .360 to -.138, but the Kingsmen righted the ship in the third. Justin Dietrich was in a rhythm early providing three quick kills to help CLU pull out to a 9-4 lead. Another service ace from Gallardo and strong play from Patrick Rowe helped the Kingsmen snag a 2-1 lead.
In the fourth, CLU nearly rallied late to avoid a deciding fifth set. Trailing 22-17, Mason Mercer and Michael Campbell produced back-to-back kills after a timeout, along with a Redhawks attacking error to bring the score to 22-20. Mercer added another kill two plays later, and the Kingsmen came within one point at 24-23, but BenU would escape with a point to force the tiebreaking set.
Rowe started the fifth set off with a kill followed by a solo block to give CLU a quick 2-0 lead but the Redhawks would battle back to trade points with the Kingsmen. With a slight 10-9 advantage, Rowe took over and tallied four kills down the stretch to lead the Violet and Gold to its fourth victory of the year.
Rowe finished with a career-high 17 kills to pace CLU on the offensive end while Gallardo and Dietrich also notched double figure kills with 11 and 10, respectively. Nick Shoemate dished out 46 assists in the match while adding six kills and seven digs. Rowe and Jamal Balkhi also tallied seven digs to tie for team-high honors and Campbell led the way with six total blocks.
The Redhawks were led by Nic Gibson, who finished with 17 kills, and Logan Adcock who had 15 kills and a game-high nine digs.
WIT def. CLU 3-0
In the second and final game of the night, the Kingsmen squared off against No. 10 Wentworth and put up a fight in each set before falling 3-0.
The Kingsmen put together one of their most efficient sets of the season, hitting .480 in the opening set, but the Leopards hit an incredible .650 with 15 kills and just two errors to take the first game 25-19.
In the second set, CLU continued its strong play to hang with one of the top teams in the nation. Gallardo added yet another service ace while Rowe connected on a handful of kills and the Kingsmen trailed just 10-9 midway through the set. The Leopards, however, would go on a 5-1 spurt to create some distance and would hold off any comeback attempts from CLU.
The Violet and Gold had aspirations of forcing a fourth set and possibly more, after trading point-for-point with Wentworth until the score was tied 23-23. A critical service ace and big time block for the Leopards, however, clinched the set and the match for the sweep.
The Kingsmen saw one of the best performances of the season from Mercer, who tallied a team-high 12 kills, along with Rowe, while hitting .611. Shoemate racked up 33 assists and Gallardo finished with another four service aces in the match.
The Leopards were led by a game-high 13 kills from Jake Reed.
Cal Lutheran (4-14) wraps up tournament action tomorrow with a match at 11:30 a.m. against Regis (Mass.) inside Gilbert Arena.
Tournament Central: Second Annual Cal Lu Fornia Invitational
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