Men’s volleyball team misses out on NCAA Tournament, lose to Nazareth


Photo by Eric Klang - Reporter

The Kingsmen volleyball team’s roster has gotten smaller as the season progressed, as Head Coach Kevin Judd said that injuries and players struggling to balance the grind of school and college volleyball meant that several members were lost.

Eric Klang, Reporter

California Lutheran University’s men’s volleyball team lost 1-3 to Nazareth College on Monday, March 20 in the final game of the Cal-Lu-Fornia invitational tournament. The Golden Flyers went a perfect 4-0 in the tournament hosted by Cal Lutheran. 

Junior right-side Jake Tucker said that losing the game against the University of California, Santa Cruz affected the team mentally and emotionally.

“It was hard to get back from that,” Tucker said. 

The Kingsmen’s four-set loss to UCSC was the decider in their bid to qualify for the National Collegiate Athletic Association D-III Tournament. Head Men’s Volleyball Coach Kevin Judd previously said that the Cal-Lu-Fornia tournament was a “huge” tournament for the Kingsmen, that it was the equivalent of a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship. 

Last year, the Kingsmen had done everything they needed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament by beating UCSC twice but were not told that the tournament would only be taking one independent school that year. 

“That year was a huge let-down. We kind of used that as motivation to come into this year. We started off hot and played well, but it didn’t end the way we wanted it to, so I definitely think that’s going to affect us next year and it’s going to be the No. 1 reason why we play every single day,” Tucker said.

The first two sets against Nazareth went back and forth but ended with the Kingsmen losing 25-27 and 23-25 as they could not find the final points they needed to close out either set. 

In the third set, Cal Lutheran was tied with Nazareth 17-17, but the Kingsmen managed to get a three-point run, which gave them the momentum needed to take the set, and won it with a score of 25-22.

Cal Lutheran came out strong in the fourth set. They were in the lead for the majority of the set before Nazareth got a four-point run at 19-19. The Kingsmen were unable to answer back and lost the set with a score of 22-25 to lose the game in four sets.  

Junior outside-hitter Ben Weber had 13 kills, the most for the Kingsmen during the match. Tucker had 10 kills, and junior middle blocker Noah Rigo and sophomore middle blocker Borys Horiuk each had eight. 

During the game, both teams’ benches bantered back and forth, resulting in Cal Lutheran getting a yellow card during the fourth set. Senior setter Jacob Cuidiamat said this banter was a way to get into their opponent’s heads. 

The Kingsmen’s record of 18-9 this season is their second-best since they became an NCAA team in 2016. With three games remaining, however, they have the opportunity to make this their best season on record. 

Looking ahead, Judd said that he is excited to get to work during the off-season. 

“It will be a completely different look that I haven’t even explored yet starting in September,” Judd said. “But one of the things we’re going to try to add is a friendly tournament at USC, try to get the guys over there and have them play some of the big dogs.”

The Kingsmen’s next game is on Saturday, March 25 at 1 p.m. against Ottawa University.