Flames spikers fall to SVU in five-game cliffhanger
March 6, 2018 | Buena Vista, Va.
Liberty University's National Collegiate Volleyball Federation (NCVF) Division I men's volleyball team, which bumped up from No. 11 to No. 7 in last week's national rankings, let a 2-1 lead slip away in Tuesday night's rematch at NCAA Division II Southern Virginia University in Buena Vista, Va., a 21-25, 25-23, 19-25, 26-24, 15-10 setback.
The Flames (9-6) had lost a Feb. 21 showdown with SVU, also played in the Knight Sports Arena, in four sets.
Liberty had the Knights (13-6) — now ranked 11th in the nation among NCAA DII programs — on the ropes early on Tuesday, building an 18-13 advantage in the second game before allowing SVU to close it out on a 12-5 run. After bouncing back to win the third game, the Flames had a match point in the fourth, but couldn't put the Knights away.
Senior middle hitter Gene Dejesus ignited Liberty's attack, spiking 15 kills to go with three block assists. Junior outside hitter Brady Quakenbush added 14 kills and five digs, senior outside hitter Scott Zalizniak had 11 kills and three block assists, and junior setter Kaden Knepper distributed 44 assists and made six digs with two block assists to feed the Flames.
Paul Clark spearheaded the Knights' attack with 21 kills, followed by Colby Wilson (9 kills), Mark Stapley and Nahuel Recabarren (7 kills each), setter Kaipo Tagaloa (48 assists, 9 digs), Daniel Aina (14 digs), and Mitch Usevitch, who assisted on eight blocks. SVU served up four aces and made 15 service errors while the Flames had five aces and 14 errors.
Liberty's DI and DII team have more than two weeks to prepare to host the East Coast Volleyball Association (ECVA) South Division tournament for the first time on March 24 in the LaHaye Multipurpose Center. (Liberty's DII men's team moved up from No. 10 to No. 8 in the NCVF DIII rankings.) The Flames will then travel to the University of Maryland on March 31 for the East Coast Championships. Their finish in that event, combined with their final regular-season NCVF rankings, will determine their seedings for the April 12-14 NCVF National Championships in St. Louis.