No. 8 Kingsmen Take No. 5 SUNY New Paltz to Five Sets

Nick Christy and Patrick Rowe combine for a block.
Nick Christy and Patrick Rowe combine for a block.

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif.— The No. 8 Cal Lutheran Kingsmen volleyball team came up just short as No. 5 SUNY New Paltz Hawks snuck out of Gilbert Arena with a hard-fought 3-2 win on Friday night in Gilbert Arena. The scores of the match were 23-25, 25-17, 26-28, 25-20, 13-15.

It was the second meeting between the teams in the matter of one week. The Hawks won the first matchup on Jan. 12, with a score of 3-1. Cal Lutheran's only two losses this year have been to a top-five team. CLU is 3-2 and SUNY New Paltz improved to 5-1. 

Cal Lutheran won the battle at the net. The Kingsmen totaled 14 total blocks, with 10 being solo. They held the Hawks to six blocks. Both teams were close in hitting percentages as CLU hit .211 and the Hawks hit .227. The differences that helped SUNY New Paltz prevail was eight service aces and 43 digs.

SUNY New Paltz took the first set and the Kingsmen were looking to answer in the second. Cal Lutheran quickly doubled up SUNY New Paltz and was up 12-6 after Dasmen Stewart crushed a kill. A few plays later, Justin Dietrich swatted down back-to-back kills to give CLU a 17-11 lead. With the Kingsmen up 19-15, Brendan Ward and Andrew Reina tallied a kill and Patrick Rowe served an ace. Cal Lutheran held the lead the rest of the way and won the set 25-17 to tie the match at 1-1. 

The Hawks took the lead back as they won the third set. With the fourth set tied at 7, SUNY New Paltz had two consecutive errors and Rowe connected on a kill. The Hawks continued to keep the set close until the Kingsmen scored five of six points and had a 22-17 lead. Nick Christy, Stewart and Ward each recorded a solo block. CLU would force a fifth and final set as the Kingsmen took the fourth with a score of 25-20.

The Kingsmen opened the fifth set on fire and had an early 4-0 lead. Rowe had two kills and then served an ace and Grant Nelson tallied a solo block. SUNY New Paltz fought back and the score was tied at 9. The scoring went back-and-forth over the next few plays and was tied up at 13. The upset bid for the Kingsmen came to an end as the Hawks won the fifth set 15-13 and escaped with the win.  

Reina and Rowe led the Kingsmen with 10 kills each. Ward was next with nine, Dietrich tallied seven and Stewart had six. Nelson and Bennett shared the ball and had 25 and 14 assists, respectively. 

Defensively, Christy, Dietrich, Stewart and Ward all recorded two solo blocks. Christy and Dietrich tallied the most blocks with four apiece. Reina had the most digs with eight. Rowe recorded six digs and Stewart and Marc Quezada both had four.  

Cal Lutheran continues the season at home and host Illinois Tech on Friday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. in Gilbert Arena.  

Box Score: SUNY NP 3, CLU 2
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Release by Ryan Jorgenson, Sports Information Director