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Flames win two and lose two in weekend tournament
The Liberty University men’s volleyball team earned a split (2-2) in its season opener at the Virginia Tech Tournament in Roanoke, Va., Saturday, Sept. 5.
Liberty won the first two matches, beating Richmond University and the University of Virginia. However, they were unable to hold on to the winning streak, losing the last two games to the Virginia Tech alumni team and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“We forced a deciding set in both of the last games, so it shows that we are right there with the top teams in our conference,” senior Steven Abbott said. “Just a little more work and we will be there.”
The Flames team is made up of mostly newcomers this season. Abbot explained that there are only five returning players, leaving the team no choice but to restructure their starting six.
Freshman Josiah Hershberger is now hitting outside for the Flames. Also new to the team is middle blocker Ryan Culkin.
“It was really exciting to see some of our new players step into their new roles,” Abbott said. “(Hershberger) gave us a great option on the outside, and Ryan was blocking great in the middle all day.”
Hershberger is excited about his opportunity to play with veteran players.
“I am a freshman playing against mostly seniors with a lot more experience than me,” Hershberger said. “But I enjoyed playing with the team and having a good time together.”
According to Abbott, Kevin Snyder will be a big boost to the team.
“We also benefitted from having (Snyder) as a right side hitter,” Abbott said. “He added some depth into our offensive attack this tournament and was a great indicator of what we need to improve on for the rest of the season.”
Snyder was happy with the way his team performed in its first tournament.
“I felt we did really well for our first tournament playing together,” Snyder said. “We saw some things that we do exceptionally well at and discovered a lot of things we need to work on for future tournaments.”
The Flames are ready to take what they learned in their first tournament and prepare to make the changes they need heading into this weekend’s home tournament.
“We came with great energy, and we were putting balls down, which is what you want as a team,” Snyder said. “We didn’t finish how we would have liked, but this will fuel us for our home tournament this coming weekend.”
The team will play in front of its home fans at the Liberty Tournament Oct. 5 in the Schilling Center.