Men’s volleyball thriving on road

Ask any player or coach and they will assuredly tell you that they dread playing away from their home-court. Whether it’s the crowd noise or simply the monotonous road-trip, any contest away from home can place a team out of its comfort zone.

Yet the No. 15 Lewis University men’s volleyball team has excelled in opposing gymnasiums. The Flyers are 7-3 on the road and 1-0 in neutral matches. More importantly, the squad is 3-1 in Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association conference road tilts. Quincy, IPFW and Ball State were not able to defend their turf against the Flyers.

Head coach Dan Friend is very confident in his team’s ability to exceed expectations on the road.

“I don’t think the guys are scared to go on the road,” Friend said.

When it comes down to crunch time, the Flyers aren’t too bad either. Lewis is an uncanny 5-0 in five-set matches this season, including their most recent five-set triumph over No. 13 UC San Diego (30-26, 30-23, 20-30, 24-30, 19-17) on Mar. 13 in Neil Carey Arena.

“The guys are handling those crunch situations really well,” Friend said. “I think it’s nice to see that the guys have the mental fortitude to push through in those situations.”

The Flyer faithful cheered their team on to a quick two-set advantage, which saw the Flyers hit .321 in the first and .517 in the second.

UC San Diego took the next two, forcing a fifth frame. The Tritons nailed 20 kills against only two attack errors as they routed the Flyers by 10 in the third set. They were equally as efficient offensively in the following set, winning by six.

Redshirt sophomore Matt Gallik evened the fifth set at nine all with a kill set by senior Mike Iandolo. The Flyers held leads of 10-9 and 11-10, but the Tritons used a three-point swing to inch to within two points of earning the win. A Lewis service error gave UC-San Diego two-match points to work with, but the Flyers thwarted off both opportunities. Freshman Ian Karbiener hit high off a Triton block, earning a crucial kill. A triple-block from Iandolo, senior Nathan Klaas and redshirt sophomore Aaron Flick sent the home-crowd into a frenzy, as well as tie the match up. Lewis held their first match-point at 17-16, but UC San Diego took the next point. Iandolo notched a kill and Gallik followed suite on the next point to clinch the victory.

The win came on the heels of a three-set loss to the Tritons a night earlier.

Gallick totaled a career-high 15 kills and 12 blocks (3 solo). Three other Flyers also finished with double-digit kills: Karbiener (12), Klaas (11) and Flick (10). Iandolo filled up the stat sheet once again, dishing out 52 assists to go along with his six kills, five digs, five blocks and two service aces.

The Flyers were out-hit .333 to .248, but held the edge in blocks (18.5 to 14.5) and dominated the serving game (9 aces to 1).

Juniata squared off with the Flyers on Mar. 19, but to no avail. Three-sets, including one of the lengthier variety, was all Lewis would need to continue their winning ways.

The first frame could quite possibly be the most entertaining of the year, as it took 86 points until a winner was crowned.

“I ran out of timeouts and subs at 32. It was pretty much on the guys,” Friend said. “The guys have been pretty good over the course of the year when their backs are against the wall. I’m pretty confident in those situations that we will push through and see them get that win.”

23 ties and nine lead changes occurred before the Flyers eventually pushed through on back-to-back kills from Karbiener. The 44-42 first set win set a Lewis record for most points scored in an individual set.

The second and third sets both ended 30-25 in favor of the Flyers.

With the win, Lewis improved to seven games above the .500 mark (13-6).

On March 23, the Flyers traveled to Loyola for their second match against the Ramblers. Offensively, the Flyers were very effective, hitting at a .340 clip. The Ramblers were a little more efficient, hitting .484 in the sweep (30-26, 30-23, 30-28).

With the win, Loyola remained unbeaten in MIVA matches (7-0).

Next up for the Flyers is a key conference home-match against IPFW on March 31 at 7:00 p.m. They battle Ball State at home on April 6 at 7:00 p.m. The match will also be televised on Lakeshore Public Television.

“We have to put ourselves in a position for second or third [in MIVA],” Friend said. “Second would be awesome because it would give us a first and second round home-match, so that’s what we have to work for.”

The Lewis Flyer

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