Flames can’t put NCAA DIII Lancaster Bible College away, suffer semester’s first setback on road
Playing without starting senior opposite hitter Josh Knapp and outside hitter Cody Reinsma, who were sidelined by nagging injuries, Liberty University’s men’s volleyball team couldn’t find the knockout punch it needed to put Lancaster Bible College away on its home court, Saturday afternoon in Lancaster, Pa.
The Chargers’ NCAA Division III program rallied from a two-game deficit to defeat the Flames 23-25, 20-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-13, improving to 13-7. Liberty, which had risen to No. 1 in the latest National Collegiate Volleyball Federation (NCVF) Division I rankings, lost for the first time this semester and slipped to 13-1.
“We didn’t serve very well and our passing wasn’t great, which is kind of where volleyball starts,” Liberty Head Coach Kaleb VanDePerre said. “We missed Josh’s block and Cody’s hitting. They’re the lifeboat. When we aren’t passing well, can set them and they can score. It made it a little more difficult without them in there. We ran a 6-2 offense to start and changed some things around.”
Senior outside hitters Cross Edwards (13 kills) and Tait Lapham (11) anchored the offense, feeding off of assists from senior setter Tommy Speelman, with senior middle blocker Luke Marine adding 7 kills and senior opposite hitters Payton Smit 6 and Cooper Guillaume 5.
“The first two games, Cross and Tait were firing early on,” VanDePerre said. “We couldn’t really run our middles a ton with the way our passing was, and couldn’t get (seniors) Ben (Dowd) and Luke (Marine) as involved as we would have liked.”
“We fought a lot at the end but just couldn’t finish and close it out,” he added. “In the third game, we started really well, in the fourth, we were tied at 20, and we were tied at 10 and up 13-11 in the fifth and lost 15-13. We just didn’t have it.”
He said Lancaster was just a little better than the shorthanded Flames in just about every area.
“They played well, passed well and served well,” VanDePerre said. “They ran their middles really fast and put some pressure on us with their fast middle tempo, which stressed our defense a little. Hopefully, it was a learning experience and we can use it to motivate us forward.”
The Flames will return to the road on Tuesday when they make a second trip to Buena Vista, Va., to challenge Southern Virginia University, a team they beat in four games in their first meeting.
“Hopefully, Josh (Knapp) will be back, but if not, we’ll be ready to battle and have some guys step up,” VanDePerre said.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer