ROCHESTER, New York. - The Cal Lutheran men's volleyball team traveled across the country to play five matches in three days. The first four came at the Nazareth Purple and Gold Tournament while the final contest was at the State University of New York (SUNY) Polytechnic Institute where the Kingsmen earned their first victory over a Division III opponent in the NCAA era at Cal Lutheran. Three of the squads CLU faced are currently ranked in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Top-15.
NAZARETH def. CLU 3-0 (25-15, 25-14, 25-14):
The first match of the trip was a tough one for the Kingsmen who struggled with nearly as many hitting errors as kills against the host Golden Flyers in a rematch of a week ago when Nazareth visited the Gilbert Arena. CLU combined for just 23 kills and a .029 hitting percentage, which proved costly against the AVCA No. 8 team. Hunter Horn finished with a team-high six kills and Nick Shoemate handed out 11 assists while Mikey Esper notched the only service ace. Defensively, the Kingsmen recorded 15 total digs with five from Jamal Balkhi. A trio of solo stops came from Horn, Kristian Gallardo and Nicholas Oertli.
MEDAILLE vs. CLU 3-2 (19-25. 25-22, 25-14, 26-28, 10-15):
Day one ended with a more balanced attack from the Kingsmen against the Medaille Mavericks. The Kingsmen totaled 58 kills and hit at a .308 clip led by 22 kills from Justin Kam and 17 from Horn. Keaton Arutian tallied 50 assists and added four of the nine service aces of the match. Balkhi paced the group with 13 digs and Horn notched eight. At the net, Oertli and Michael Campbell each had two solo blocks and three assists.
SUNY-NEW PALTZ def. CLU 3-0 (20-25, 19-25, 18-25):
Saturday started with a challenge in No. 1 SUNY-New Paltz. Again, the Violet and Gold were slow to find a rhythm and errors hurt. Horn finished with seven of the 22 kills and Shoemate dished out 12 assists. Two of the four service aces came from Gallardo. Defensively, there were three solo blocks, each coming from a different player and Kam led the way with eight of the 18 team digs.
ELMIRA def. CLU 3-2 (22-25, 25-23, 15-25, 25-22, 6-15):
No. 9 Elmira swept the season series with a win in the tournament finale for CLU. In the first set, Cal Lutheran combined for 16 kills, but the second was the most memorable of the day as the Kingsmen hit a combined .407 with just one error in 27 attempts while earning 12 kills. Esper broke out for 14 kills to lead the way for the Violet and Gold with Kam adding 12. Balkhi had with 10 digs as the only players in double digits and Forghani finished with four solo stops and a pair of block assists. Oertli and Shoemate each had four block assists in the match.
CLU def. SUNY-POLYTECHNIC 3-2 (21-25, 18-25, 25-25, 25-19, 15-12):
A victorious finish to the trip came on Monday afternoon when CLU defeated SUNY-Polytechnic behind 12 kills from Kam, 11 from Oertli and 10 from Campbell. Shoemate and Aurtian split setting duties, handing out 30 and 10, respectively. Four service aces came by way of four different Kingsmen. Both Balkhi and Horn tallied 11 digs and Campbell and Robert Rutecki each had a solo block. Oertli and Shoemate had seven block assists apiece and Campbell finished with eight as CLU teamed up for 34 total block assists.
Notables: The Kingsmen played to a fifth set three times over the weekend and have 11 five-setters to date this spring. Horn surpassed 300 kills during the trip and currently has 301.
Next Up: Cal Lutheran (5-23) is out of competition for 10 days before taking the court on one final road trip during its Inaugural NCAA season. The Kingsmen will travel to UC Santa Cruz for a single match on Friday, April 1 and head to Holy Names to round out the 2016 schedule on Saturday, April 2.