The Lincoln College Men’s Volleyball team began play in the 48 team NCVF National Championship Tournament being held in Louisville, Kentucky. The Lynx were seeded 14th in the tournament field and second in their opening round pool behind #10 ranked Claremont College (CA). LC was not intimidated by the big stage though and ran the table to go 3-0 and win their pool. In their first match, Lincoln easily dispatched Siena College (NY) 25-15, 25-13. Match two was against a very skilled and athletic team from the U of St. Thomas (MN). Lincoln took an early lead and held on for a 25-22 win in set one and appeared to be in control of set two with a late 24-20 lead, but St. Thomas would not quit and battled through several long volleys to tie the set and force extra points. The two teams traded sideouts and set point opportunities until the Lynx finally prevailed 29-27 on a match ending kill from sophomore Manny Benitez. The win set up a showdown with the top seed in the pool, Claremont. In the match the Lynx took their game to another level and were able to maintain leads against a very skilled team in both sets for wins of 25-22 and 25-21.
On the day, Lincoln was lead in kills by leftside hitter Manny Benitez, digs by Sophomore libero Alec Esparza and points by sophomore Adam Krzos. Freshman Bryan Orellana led the team in assists and the net was controlled all day long by middles Alex Robles and Michael Wesley. A fantastic all-around performance was chipped in by setter/right side hitter Lukasz Kupiec. Kupiec was second on the team in assists as well as kills and was a big contributor defensively as well.
The pool play win puts Lincoln into a Championship Round pool for Day two of the three-day event. LC will begin play at 3:00 pm against the winner of a morning challenge match then take on the overall #2 seed in the tournament from Army (West Point). The top two teams from this pool will move into the Gold bracket for single elimination play on Saturday.
LC Coach Mark Tippett: Today was an outstanding day for our program. Our players played with some real fire and a ton of energy and, best of all, they had fun doing it. Throughout pool play we used a balanced offensive attack and sound fundamentals on defense to build leads and not let our opponents gain any momentum. St. Thomas was a very tough opponent, but our ball control was just a bit stronger than theirs and we were able to contain their big hitters. Claremont was also a talented team that featured a leftside hitter from Chicago who turned down a number of DI scholarship offers. It was easy to see why he got such interest because he was very hard to stop, but we kept him from doing too much damage and were able to score enough when he was in the back row to keep an advantage most of the way. I was extremely pleased with the way we played today and look forward to seeing our team in action on Day 2.
Note: On Wednesday evening, Coach Tippett was honored as the NCVF Division II National Coach of the Year.
Below: Sophomores Adam Krzos and Alex Robles team up for a block against U of St. Thomas during pool play on Thursday.