The Liberty men’s volleyball team may be overlooked on campus, but they were far from overlooked at their tournament at North Carolina State University Saturday, Feb. 2.
“Because it was our first tournament back from break, we wanted to get back into the swing of things and begin to build momentum for the rest of the season,” Liberty senior Addison Eshleman said.
The Flames started the tournament’s pool play facing last year’s national tournament runner up, N.C. State. Their momentum in the first game led them to win the first set, 25-21. N.C. State came fighting back to take the second set, 25-18.
Liberty then took on University of North Carolina Willington, sweeping them in two straight sets, both ending 25-17. Sophomore Derek Abildness had seven kills on the match, with senior Ethan Chase following with four.
Liberty finished qualifying in pool play facing the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association’s alumni team. Digging Diversity took the first set from Liberty, 25-15, but the Flames fought back and took the second set, 25-22. Chase had eight kills in the match, with middle-hitter Tim Pandorf following with four.
The pool play landed Liberty in the sixth seed for the tournament. Liberty took on the Duke Blue Devils in the first round. Duke took the first set from the Flames, 25-22.
Liberty came back in the second set after being down six, but they could not clinch the win and lost, 25-23. Outside hitter Jamie Stedjan had four kills on the match, along with middle hitter Sam Eisbrenner.
“Since we were going point for point with Duke, all I could think was that we need to get on a run quick so we can create some space between us and them,” Stedjan said.
“We would have liked to win the whole tournament, but we really wanted to play point-for-point with the best teams in our conference and prove to ourselves and the conference that we are a threat,” defensive specialist Steven Abbott said.
As a whole, the Flames were proud of the way they played as a team as they continue to get ready for the season.
“We made a lot of changes in the rotation throughout the tournament, and we need to get back in the gym to work out some of the kinks before next weekend,” Abbott said.
The Flames travel to Harrisonburg, Va. Saturday, Feb. 9 to compete in a tournament at James Madison University.