Flames edge Spartans, sweep Panthers, ousted by Quakers
April 5, 2014 | Reno, Nev.
Playing its first match at 8 a.m. (11 a.m. EST) for the second day in a row on the third and final day of the NCVF Collegiate ClubVolleyball Championships at the 50-court Reno-Sparks (Nev.) Convention Center, Liberty University's men's volleyball team came out flat-footed in Saturday's first match against Michigan State University.
Fortunately for the Flames, they recovered in time to pull out a 25-23, 22-25, 15-12 victory over the Spartans in the first round of Bronze Bracket play. Liberty then swept the University of Pittsburgh, seeded 20th in the 48-team Division I-A field, 25-20, 25-16 to advance to the semifinals, where it was eliminated with a 25-22, 18-25, 15-11 loss to the University of Pennsylvania, a team it had swept in Friday's pool play.
"We came out flat like we did against Texas A&M (in an early-morning loss Friday), but today they fought through it and finished strongly," Liberty Head Coach Bryan Rigg said after the match against MSU. "They were able to turn it on when they needed to. They were up 21-18 at one point and we started blocking and the blocks got us right back in the game and we won the game with two big blocks."
The Flames combined for 12 blocks in the three-game win and got stronger in all aspects of the game as the match progressed.
"In the morning matches, as the games go on and as the guys get more into it, they get better and better," Rigg said. "They got their energy back and it started to look like they really wanted to win. The third game was a much better effort."
Rigg said the biggest contributor for the Flames may have been their smallest player, sophomore libero Josiah Williams, who stands 5 feet, 6 inches. He made numerous saving defensive digs, starting the attack with accurate passes.
"Josiah did an excellent job," Rigg said, noting teams have avoided hitting his way. "Thus far in our tournament, he's been our MVP. As the team rises and falls, he's a constant. He rarely if ever struggles. He's so agile, so quick. He had a bunch of digs and service receives and he passes almost perfect balls."