Flames swept by DIII host Cairn, top DII Trojans in five
March 4, 2014 | Langhorne, Pa.
In a match where Liberty University's blocking ability was its best offensive weapon, freshman Josiah "Si" Hershberger recorded two of the biggest blocks of the day against Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.) College, in a men's volleyball tri-match Monday at Cairn University, north of Philadelphia.
The Flames (8-4) were swept by the host Highlanders (9-9), an NCAA Division III opponent, 25-22, 25-19, 25-20 in the opening match before regrouping and staging a 21-25, 25-21, 25-21, 22-25, 18-16 five-game triumph over the NCAA Division II Trojans.
Liberty Head Coach Bryan Rigg noted Liberty held a 12-5 advantage in blocks against Cairn before out-blocking HLGU by a 17-1 margin. "They had many more digs and assists and service aces. They played scrappy. They got up a lot more balls and got more back, but we were the better team here today."
The Trojans (3-15) had four hitters in double figures in kills — David Manganiello (16), Shaquille Lott (15), Cameron Moeller (14), and Gillan Octave (13) — feeding off sets from Trey Biggs (69 assists). Liberty was led by Kevin Snyder's 20 kills and Hershberger's 11, as junior setter Ethan Chase distributed 39 assists.
But that was only half of the Flames' attack as 6-foot, 7-inch junior Ryan Burtt had eight block assists in four games played, Snyder added seven block assists, and Herschberger contributed three solo blocks and four block assists.
"That's what really motivated us," Rigg said. "Everybody was energized when we got a block."
Liberty trailed 14-12 in Game 5 with Hannibal-LaGrange serving.
"It seemed improbable to come back, but we matched them point for point for two rallies and on the last two points, Si blocked two of those last balls to finish the game," Rigg said. "It was a great way to end the night. This team still has a lot more it can give."
"We had guys playing positions they were not used to playing and everybody stepped up and did a great job," Rigg said. "We were able to shuffle some guys and it worked well for us tonight. (Hershberger) made the move back to the middle hitter position and he's really comfortable there so we'll probably keep him there. Then, when (middle blocker) Ryan (Culkin, separated shoulder) comes back, it will add another dimension to our blocking."
Against Cairn, Hershberger had eight kills on 18 attempts while Williams made 10 digs and had five block assists, Snyder added four kills and four block assists and Chase distributed 16 assists and had five digs and one block.
The tri-match was Liberty's last event until it hosts the EIVA South Division Championships, March 22 in the Schillling Center. The winner of that will qualify for the East Coast Championships, March 29 in Maryland, before going on to the National Collegiate Volleyball Association Club Championships starting April 2 in Reno, Nev.