DI men's volleyball finishes 3-1, DII goes 1-1-2 at King U.
October 13, 2018 | Bristol, Tenn.
Facing predominantly NCAA Division II competition, Liberty University's men's volleyball team more than held its own Saturday in a round-robin event at King University in Bristol, Tenn.
"It was a really encouraging tournament for the guys, who had a great time against some really good competition," Flames Head Coach Bryan Rigg said.
Competition at King this year was better than in years past. The Flames' DI men's squad swept its first three opponents, defeating Campbellsville, an NAIA program, 25-19 and 25-20, before powering past two NCAA DII teams — host King, 25-19, 25-20, and Erskine, 25-19, 25-21 — before losing to a third, Lincoln Memorial, 28-26, 25-23.
"Kaden played well," Rigg said. "He led the team in aces and was on with both his serves and his setting. He set the tempo for the team, which was important. Gene was a big part of our success and was the best middle hitter on any team there, and Josh Knapp stepped up big for us."
Rigg said the 6-foot, 8-inch freshman maintained the highest kill percentage for the Flames.
"He has impressed us because we expected him to get lots of blocks and a few kills, and he's getting a few blocks and a ton of kills," he said. "He is hitting above .500 right now, which is great for us."
Still, the last-game loss to Lincoln Memorial was a bit of a letdown for the Flames.
"From the beginning of the day, it was obvious we were maybe the best or at least the most talented team," Rigg said. "The measure of a team is its ability to play well against good teams and stay motivated throughout the day. In the last match, we were up by seven points early and led 22-18 late and got a little complacent. We lost track and ended up losing that game and the next."
The Flames' DII team went 1-1-2 against four NCAA DII opponents, splitting with Lincoln Memorial, 27-25, 22-25 before dropping both games against North Greenville, 28-26, 25-19. It rebounded to win its first match over Lees McRae, 25-22, 25-23, before splitting two games against Erskine, 19-25, 25-21.
Rigg said senior libero Jarred Patterson, Liberty's lone upperclassman on the DII roster, was an inspirational leader, almost like a coach on the court for the Flames.
"He helps the guys understand what's going on and motivates them when they need somebody to refocus them and make them competitive," Rigg said.
Freshman setter Tait Lapham also stood out, distributing the ball well to lead the team in assists as well as blocks, facing up against opposing teams' outside hitters, and freshman outside hitter James Morton improved his game as the tournament progressed.
On Nov. 3, Liberty will travel to JMU for an East Coast Volleyball Association regional tournament expected to draw 12 Division I and 12 Division II teams, including Penn State, Virginia Tech, and the host Dukes, who the Flames defeated at their home tournament last month.