THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - No one on the Cal Lutheran men's volleyball roster was alive the last time that the Kingsmen stepped on the court for an intercollegiate match. Tonight, the new era of NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball continued with the first home match in program history before a packed Gilbert Arena. No easy task, the first-year program faced off with Preseason American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) No. 9 New York University, falling 3-0 (25-18, 25-16, 25-23).
The energy from the start was electric and a buzz could be felt in the arena throughout the match. The home-opener jitters, however, were apparent early on for the Kingsmen as they opened the first set with three straight service errors as NYU took an early lead. Mikey Esper picked up the first point for CLU on an assist from setter Keaton Arutian and an NYU service error helped the Kingsmen stay alive early on.
Up 3-2, the NYU Violets rattled off four straight points and eight of the next ten to take a commanding 11-4 lead. Nicholas Oertli provided some highlights for the Kingsmen with three kills in the set, but NYU took the first game 25-18.
The second game followed a similar pattern, with the Violets jumping out to an early 9-3 lead after hitting at a high clip, over .800, for the beginning of the set. The Kingsmen, however, would not give up and fought back with a rally of their own to trim the lead. A big block from Oertli and Esper sparked a run that featured a Michael Campbell kill and a solo block and kill from Robert Rutecki. Ultimately, NYU held on to its lead and captured the second set 25-16 to go up 2-0.
In the third set, CLU began to find its rhythm and looked to steal a set from the No. 9 team in the country. Rutecki picked up where he left off in set two with a powerful kill to give the Kingsmen a 1-0 lead. NYU responded with five straight kills of its own and held a 15-10 lead midway through the set. Another Rutecki kill, two straight NYU attacking errors and a block from Kristian Gallardo and Campbell brought CLU to within one, 15-14. NYU extended its lead to 17-14, but a few more errors and a Campbell kill tied the game at 17 apiece, bringing the noise from the crowd of over 1,000 to grow.
With the set tied, Gallardo came through with two hammering service aces, and an NYU error put CLU up by three, 20-17.
Moments later, still up by three, 23-20, Hunter Horn went up for an attack that was rejected from Chase Klein, and the momentum seemed to shift at that very moment. Three CLU attacking errors down the stretch, and a big block from NYU capped off the game, 25-23, and the 3-0 sweep for NYU.
Oertli and Rutecki led the Kingsmen with six kills apiece and Arutian dished out 18 assists. Horn led the way with seven digs and Campbell picked up three block assists. Campbell also finished with four kills while Esper, Gallardo and Horn each tallied three.
NYU was led by Klein and Nick Benson who each tallied a game-high eight kills. Derrick Chiu totaled 28 assists while Chase Corbett and Phil Bueno each notched five digs apiece.
Cal Lutheran (0-2) returns to the second day of the Inaugural Posada Royale Invitational tomorrow, Saturday, Jan. 23 to face No. 5 UC Santa Cruz and Lakeland (Wis.) at 12:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., respectively, inside of the Gilbert Arena.
Tournament Central: Inaugural Posada Royale Invitational
Box Score: NYU 3, CLU 0
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