THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - After a trying start to its first season, the Cal Lutheran men's volleyball team finally broke through with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-15, 25-22) victory against Moorpark College on Friday night inside Gilbert Arena.
Through their first nine games the Kingsmen faced a handful of ranked opponents, including taking three straight matches to five sets on their most recent trip to Ohio, but were unable to get over the hump against more experienced teams.
"What we saw in Ohio was that we have the ability, but we weren't quite coming together yet," said head coach Kevin Judd. "Now the guys are starting to trust in each other and starting to play for one another."
The Kingsmen showed their cohesion by jumping out to a strong start in the first set. After a lengthy rally on the first serve of the game, Hunter Horn came through for CLU with a powerful kill to give the Kingsmen the first point of the match. Keaton Arutian followed with back-to-back service aces and CLU was off and running.
Horn continued his strong play throughout the set finishing with five kills on five attempts for a perfect hitting percentage. After taking a 20-13 lead, the Raiders rallied back with four straight to cut the lead to three at 20-17, but two more kills from Horn and a Frankie Manes service ace put the first game in the books, 25-19, for the Violet and Gold.
After the second set opened to an even 5-5 score, the Kingsmen stepped on the gas with five straight points highlighted by kills from Michael Campbell, Kristian Gallardo and Robert Rutecki. CLU continued its run to take a commanding 20-11 lead, and finished off the set, 25-15, after a Gallardo kill and a Moorpark attacking error.
CLU was lights out in the second, totaling 13 kills on 22 total attempts for a hitting percentage of .409 while the Raiders had just six kills and seven errors for a -.040 percentage.
With all the momentum on their side and the first win of the season within grasp, the Kingsmen jumped out to a big lead in the third and final set. Moorpark would make one final attempt at a comeback, but with CLU up 24-22, Rutecki slammed home the final point to clinch the victory.
Rutecki, along with Gallardo and Horn, all tied for team-high honors with nine kills and Arutian finished with 26 assists, nine digs and four service aces. Horn led the way with a .583 hitting percentage after starting the match 8-for-8 and Rutecki hit at a .412 clip.
Owen Yoshimoto tallied a game-high 15 kills to lead the Raiders.
"As a team we're just really happy to get this first one," said former Moorpark College Raider and current Kingsmen libero Jamal Balkhi. "We're just looking to keep it rolling now."
Cal Lutheran (1-9) will look to keep it rolling when they welcome Hope International to Gilbert Arena this Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 7:00 p.m.
Box Score: CLU 3, MC 0
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