Club Sports News

Men's volleyball reaches Final Four, falls to Illini in rematch

April 20, 2019  |  Denver, Colo. 

Senior setter Kaden Knepper serves during the Flames' Midnight Mayhem match vs. Virginia Tech. (Photo by Gabrielle Calhoun) test test test test
Senior setter Kaden Knepper serves during the Flames' Midnight Mayhem match vs. Virginia Tech. (Photo by Gabrielle Calhoun)

It was a tournament of firsts for Liberty University's Division I men's volleyball team at the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation (NCVF) National Championships in Denver, where the second-ranked Flames qualified for the Gold Bracket and advanced to the Final Four for the first time before falling to No. 22 Illinois in Saturday night's semifinal round.

The Illini, which had survived and advanced with three-game wins over No. 3 Marquette in the Round of 16 and No. 7 San Diego State in the quarterfinals, upended Liberty in the semifinals, 25-20, 25-20. They wound up losing to Cal Poly in a three-game championship match.

The semifinal setback was reminiscent of another untimely exit for the Flames, who were knocked out by Illinois in the first round of tournament action in the Feb. 16-17 Hoosier-Illini Classic in Bloomington, Ind., after finishing 4-0 in pool play and crossover matches. 

On Friday, the Flames secured their first-ever placement in the Division I Gold Bracket by winning both of their power pool matches — over Arizona, 20-25, 25-23, 15-11, and Miami (Ohio), 25-17, 25-20.

Liberty started Saturday's play by sweeping Wisconsin-Madison, 25-17, 25-20, in the round of 16. The Flames then advanced to the Final Four with a 25-20, 25-22 quarterfinal triumph over 12th-ranked California Berkeley.

Senior middle hitter Gene Dejesus and setter Kaden Knepper were both selected to the All-NCVF Division I Tournament First Team

Meanwhile, Liberty's Division II team, ranked a program-best fifth in the nation, qualified for the Gold Bracket for the second time in three years at nationals. The Flames went 3-0 in their pool on Thursday, sweeping Illinois, 25-15, 25-13; Air Force, 25-12, 25-11; and Illinois State, 25-17, 25-23. Then on Friday, Liberty was nearly as dominant in its power pool, defeating Iowa, 25-18, 25-22, and Missouri, 25-17, 25-19.

Liberty finally met its match in Saturday morning's single-elimination Gold Bracket round of 16. Like the Flames' DI squad, it was also eliminated by seventh-ranked Illinois' B team, taking the Illini to three games before being ousted, 25-21, 18-25, 15-13.

Complete results are available online.

Liberty's DI team went 7-1 and made the Gold Bracket for the first time at the NCVF National Championships.

Men's Volleyball Links

No events scheduled for this team.

Apr 9
Men's Volleyball
at NCVF National Championships

Apr 3
Men's Volleyball
at vs. Southern Virginia University

Mar 28
Men's Volleyball
at ECVA East Coast Championships

Mar 22
Men's Volleyball
at ECVA South Championships

Feb 28
Men's Volleyball
at Randolph Macon
W (3-0)

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