Kingsmen Host The Cal-Lu-Fornia Invitational

The Kingsmen currently hold a 12-6 overall record heading into the final nine matches of their season. Photo by Arianna Macaluso- Photojournalist
The Kingsmen currently hold a 12-6 overall record heading into the final nine matches of their season.
Photo by Arianna Macaluso- Photojournalist

Cal Lutheran 3-0 (25-23, 25-13, 25-22) over Lakeland

The California Lutheran University men’s volleyball team hosted the annual Cal-Lu-Fornia Classic Invitational this past weekend. The tournament kicked off on Friday at 4 p.m. and included Cal Lutheran, Lakeland University, Medaille College, University of California at Merced and University of California at Santa Cruz.

On Friday at 7 p.m., the Kingsmen defeated the Lakeland Muskies in three straight sets during their first match of the tournament. They started the first set off on a strong note with a kill from sophomore outside hitter Andrew Reina. It was a close match, with the Kingsmen leading the Muskies by one or two points for the majority of it. The Kingsmen stayed in the lead with kills by Reina, senior middle blocker Michael Campbell, sophomore outside hitter Mason Mercer, sophomore middle blocker Justin Dietrich and sophomore setter Grant Nelson. Sophomore outside hitter Patrick Rowe helped the team pull ahead after he put away a few kills, resulting in a 25-23 win.

Rowe continued to put away kills during the next two sets. In combination with several attack errors and service errors by the Muskies, the Kingsmen swept the second set 25-13.

In the third set, the Kingsmen came out strong with a block by Reina and an ace by Nelson.  They kept their lead until the end of the set, resulting in a 25-22 win and the defeat of the Muskies 3-0.

After a great team effort by the Kingsmen, Assistant Coach Jamal Balkhi said that they focus on being team players.

“‘Hold the rope’ is one thing that we talk about so…even if you’re getting frustrated or somethings not going your way, you gotta be there for the rest of your team,” Balkhi said.

Cal Lutheran 2-3 (25-20, 24-26, 25-19, 23-25, 10-15) to UC Merced

The U.C. Merced Bobcats defeated the Kingsmen after an exciting five-set match. In the first set, Cal Lutheran came out ahead 25-20 after kills from Reina, Campbell and junior outside hitter Brendan Ward. Ward also had some solo blocks that helped them keep their lead. The Bobcats put up a fight in the next set, winning 26-24.

The Kingsmen battled for the 25-19 win in the third set, but the Bobcats answered with a win in the fourth set 25-23.

In the fifth and final set the Bobcats pulled ahead from the start and defeated the Kingsmen 15-10. Cal Lutheran lost the match 3-2.

After a hard-fought battle, Head Coach Kevin Judd said that the theme of this season is character.

“We’re really working on our positivity, keeping our heads up,” Judd said.

Cal Lutheran 0-3 (22-25, 25-27, 21-25) to Santa Cruz

In the third and final match of the tournament, the Kingsmen faced their rivals, the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs. In the first set the Kingsmen fought to stay with the Slugs with kills by Ward, Rowe and a service run by freshman defensive specialist and libero Marc Quezada. The Kingsmen lost the first set 25-22.

The second set was another close one and after a hard-fought battle by the Kingsmen, the Slugs took the victory 27-25.

In the third and last set of the night, Cal Lutheran battled to stay 

in the match Santa Cruz with kills by Dietrich, Campbell and Ward. Reina helped the Kingsmen get close to the Banana Slugs but the Slugs ultimately pulled away from the close 19-18 score, winning the set 25-21. The Kingsmen lost to the slugs 3-0.

Ward said that making too many mistakes got the better of them this match, but it was something to learn from.

“We still got a lot of matches left to play and we’re going to try to learn from this and take that into our last half of the season,” Ward said.

The Kingsmen end the tournament with a 12-4 overall record. They will face Benedictine University at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 20 before traveling to Massachusetts for a series of six matches to close the regular season.

Brooke Stanley