Kingsmen Defeat Firebirds In Three Sets

Sophomore Andrew Reina picked up 11 kills on Wednesday. Photo by Paige Rankin-Photojournalist
Sophomore Andrew Reina picked up 11 kills on Wednesday.
Photo by Paige Rankin-Photojournalist

The California Lutheran University men’s volleyball team won a highly contested match against St. Katherine College, 3-0. The Kingsmen battled throughout all three sets, but prevailed in the end, gaining them their sixth win of the season.

The first set did not have much to offer. The Kingsmen had a lights-out performance, playing both sides of the ball to their liking and came away with an early 25-14 victory.

“We won the game because of our offense’s ability to get first ball kills. We also controlled the defense with our block,” said sophomore middle blocker Justin Dietrich, who had three kills in the win.

Andrew Reina, sophomore outside hitter shined in the match, tallying 11 kills and six digs in the win.

The second set began with much more competition for the Kingsmen, allowing the Firebirds to take an early lead, but were met with a shift to allow the Kingsmen to finish with a 25-21 victory.

“For every game, we always want to compete at the highest level we can and focus on playing our game. Focusing on our serving and passing so that it’s easier for our hitters is the key to many of our games,” said Kelly Jew, sophomore opposite position.

Sophomore libero Alec Bennett led the team with 15 digs during the match, a season high for him. He also accredited three assists.

The Firebirds started to attack the weak points of the Kingsmen defense. Cal Lutheran called for change of plans and quickly learned St. Katherine’s plan of attack.

“After and during the match, something we noticed was our defense against tips. St. Katherine did a great job of abusing this weakness and that’s something we will be working in the next couple of practices,” Jew said.

During the second and third sets, the Firebirds began to gain momentum, scoring four straight points and gaining an early lead.

The Kingsmen fought hard to stop momentum and regain control of the game.

“You can honestly do anything from calling a timeout to stopping the game and wiping the floor, and to just putting up a good block and playing your heart out,” said Mason Mercer, sophomore outside hitter.

The last two sets were won on a combined six points, 21-25 in the second set, and 25-23 in the final set. Dietrich said they played down to their opponent’s level and did not play the game the way they envisioned before.

“Our game plan for the opponent was to stay focused and to take care of the team in three sets” Dietrich said.

Mercer mentioned that the    

ability to stop and gain momentum so quickly is because of the great home crowd in Gilbert Arena.

After the game, Mercer went on the say the focus against opponents is to stay on their side and play the game they know how to.

“While gathering information on the other side it’s always important to make sure to play our own game and play to our level,” Mercer said.

The Kingsmen improved to a 6-3 record and are riding a wave of momentum as they get ready for the Golden Flyer Tournament in Rochester, New York, Feb. 16-17.

The tournament following this win could be used as a platform to get men’s volleyball on the map here at Cal Lutheran, as the up-and-coming team looks to make a name for itself.

“I think this season holds a lot of opportunities for us. We have a few important tournaments that can really help to put us on the map. I think we can truly make a name for ourselves as a program this year,” said Brendan Ward, junior outside hitter.

Frank Molina