Grand Canyon righted its ship but Loyola Chicago’s took on some water, while BYU clipped Pepperdine in five sets again during an eventful Saturday of Division-III NCAA men’s volleyball.

Also, Hawaii and Long Beach State took care of business, Ohio State made up ground in the MIVA and Daemen’s suffered its first defeat in NEC play.

One night after being stunned in five by the visiting Eagles, No. 5 Grand Canyon (21-2, 6-2 MPSF) weathered a marathon opening set to sweep Concordia Irvine (7-13, 1-5) in Phoenix 37-35, 25-22, 25-16. The Lopes’ defense brought freshman Gabe Doble, who had torched them with .600 hitting the night before, back to earth. Doble hit .000 with nine errors negating his nine kills on 30 swings.

Consecutive aces by Camden Gianni tallied Grand Canyon’s 36th and 37th points in an epic first set that featured 15 set points. The Lopes then hit .400 and .500 in the second and third. Gianni (11 kids, four service winners), Jackson Hickman (11 kills) and Christian Janke (10 kills) proved balance for Grand Canyon.

In a tense neutral-site slugfest that saw two sets in the 30s, Princeton (10-10) of the EIVA knocked off No. 9 Loyola Chicago (18-4) of the MIVA 28-30, 25-16, 25-23, 31-29 at George Mason. Ben Harrington, a 6-foot-4 junior from the Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn, was a huge thorn in Loyola’s side with 18 kills and five aces. Harrington’s final kill and an attacking error by Parker Van Buren put the finishing touches on the Tigers’ victory.

A little more than a week ago, the Ramblers under first-year coach John Hawks seemingly were sitting pretty at 17-2 and riding a 10-match winning streak. Then they suffered their first MIVA loss, at unranked Purdue Fort Wayne, and Saturday absorbed another defeat to an unranked squad. Couple those with an “L” at unranked Concordia Irvine in early February and an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament that once seemed at least within the realm of possibility for Loyola looks far more iffy, meaning it has an imperative to win the MIVA Tournament and collect its automatic NCAA bid.

Princeton held 6-foot-9 sophomore Van Buren, a MIVA Player of the Year contender. relatively in check. Despite 15 kills and two aces, he hit .250, 77 points below his season average, and committed nine service errors.

BYU’s triple block in action against Pepperdine/BYU photo

The second act of the weekend play in Provo, Utah, between No. 8 BYU and No. 7 Pepperdine was even more suspenseful than the first. The fifth set Friday ended 15-11. On Saturday, a crowd of 4,325 at Smith Fieldhouse saw an ace by Jon Stanley put the Cougars (13-6, 3-4) up 14-12 in the fifth and a kill by Miks Ramanis punctuate a 22-25, 25-16, 25-21, 23-25, 15-13 MPSF victory over the Waves (14-9, 4-3). Pepperdine opposite Jaylen Jasper had exploded for 37 kills in Friday’s match, but BYU was dialed in on him. Jasper had 15 kills against 13 errors and hit .049. Ramanis cracked 16 kills and two aces, and Trent Moser contributed 14 kills, two aces and eight block assists. Middle Teon Taylor had nine blocks.

With just six hitting errors, No. 2 Hawaii (20-2, 3-1) played clean volleyball again in a workmanlike 25-17, 25-18, 25-15 drubbing of host CSUN (12-9, 1-3). The Rainbow Warriors, who recorded sweeps in both weekend Big West matches at Northridge, limited the Matadors to 27 kills with 20 errors (.087). Dimitrios Mouchlias led Hawaii with 13 kills on .522 hitting, adding four block assists and a solo. Spyros Chakas blasted four aces and had four block assists.

Fourth-ranked Long Beach State (14-3) of the Big West dropped a set to No. 11 USC (8-11) of the MPSF at the Galen Center after sweeping the slumping Trojans at the Pyramid the night before. The Beach got 15 kills each from Sotiris Siapanis and Clarke Godbold and 10 digs from All-American libero Mason Briggs during a 25-13, 14-25, 27-25, 25-21 triumph that pushed host USC’s losing streak to four.

No. 15 Ohio State (15-9, 7-3 MIVA) apparently remained in “hungry” mode in its third match of the week, and the Buckeyes devoured shell-shocked Quincy (7-15, 0-10). Before a matinee crowd of 1,270 at the Covelli Center in Columbus, Ohio State hit .604 and ripped eight aces in a 25-10, 25-11, 25-19 destruction of the last-place Hawks. Its offense sided-out nine out of 10 times in the opening set and 11 out of 12 in the second. Jacob Pasteur hit .833 with 10 kills on 12 errorless swings, and pounded four aces. Shane Wetzel also dialed up four service winners, and collected 11 kills on .588 hitting. After upsetting No. 1 Penn State on the road Tuesday, the Buckeyes won back-to-back MIVA matches over the weekend. Look for them to climb in the AVCA poll.

Also in the MIVA, No. 12 Ball State (14-8, 7-3) held serve on its home court against Lindenwood (9-9, 6-4) in three not-particularly-threatening sets (25-19, 25-18, 25-17). Tinaishe Ndavazocheva was the Cardinals’ hero with 16 kills on .538 hitting. Host Lewis (14-10, 5-5) got 15 kills from Max Roquet in a 23-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-22   triumph over error-prone Purdue Fort Wayne (14-8, 5-5).

The race in Conference Carolinas remained highly contentious after road teams won all three matches Saturday afternoon. Erskine (13-10, 8-4) came back to the pack after dropping a tight four-setter (22-25, 25-22, 25-22, 28-26) to Lees-McRae (9-11, 5-4). Sebastian Heer cranked 13 kills on .556 hitting for the Bobcats. North Greenville (14-7, 7-3) gained ground by grinding out a five-set victory (25-23, 23-25, 25-22, 20-25, 15-6) victory over Barton (3-15, 3-8). The Crusaders had four hitters with double-digit kills, topped by Diego Rosich’s 18. Belmont Abbey (13-12, 7-4) kept pace, a half-match back, by scaling Mount Olive (8-13, 4-7) in four 25-23, 25-18, 14-25, 25-17. Reliable Matteo Miselli stepped up with 22 kills and two aces.

A five-set upset loss by Daemen and a road score by Long Island made it a tie at the top of the NEC standings. Host Daemen (13-4, 7-1) was knocked off by Saint Francis (9-11, 6-2) of Pennsylvania, with each set won by the Red Flash going to overtime (26-24, 19-25, 26-24, 18-25, 17-15). Thomas Leahey, a seasoned 6-9 senior, made solo blocks on Zach Schneider and Cameron Milligan to close out the fifth set. Andrew Deardorff posted 22 kills and three solo blocks for Saint Francis. Meanwhile, Caden Satterfield (19 kills on .567 hitting) was a difference-maker for LIU (13-8, 7-1) in a 25-14, 25-22, 25-27, 25-20 victory over host Sacred Heart (7-9, 4-4 NEC).

Also, Kapper Taudul’s 20 kills and two aces helped D’Youville (8-9, 1-7) win its first NEC match, in five sets over visiting Fairleigh Dickinson (4-14, 1-7). St. Francis Brooklyn (9-10, 4-4) swept Merrimack (8-11, 2-6)

SIAC front-runners Edward Waters (9-4, 6-0) limited sophomore sensation Ras Jesse Delancy to 16 kills on 44 swings (with seven errors) in a 25-14, 25-18, 25-19 home-court victory over Benedict (8-7, 5-4 SIAC). The Tigers’ Bryan Pepen ripped 16 kills with a .444 percentage.

Elsewhere, Matthew Gentry, a 6-foot-7 junior middle hitter, recorded 13 kills on 14 swings with no errors for a .929 percentage during a three-set road victory by Lincoln Memorial (15-4) over fellow independent Limestone (11-10). In another independent battle, Matthew Pilch whacked 18 kills as host Queens (9-12) beat Tusculum (8-14) in four. Despite 26 kills and three aces by Joe Nicomento, host independent Maryville (10-15) stumbled in five (18-16 in the fifth) against NAIA program Judson (18-6). Host independent Missouri S&T (11-9) topped NAIA member Thomas More (12-12) in four. Independent Alderson Broaddus (9-14) split matches against D-III teams, falling in four to host Geneva (15-13) and beating Theil (12-12) in five.

SUNDAY: An abbreviated schedule has two nonconference matches: Independent Lincoln Memorial at Emmanuel (Ga.) of Conference Carolinas and Loyola Chicago of the MIVA at George Mason of the EIVA. Also, Edward Waters entertains Fort Valley State in the SIAC.

If a match is being shown we have the viewing link in our TV & Listings.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here