Men’s College Volleyball: Lewis tops Grand Canyon in MIVA tourney opening round
By Dennis Nelson For Sun-Times Media April 18, 2014 10:32PM
Lewis' James Hoffman uncorks a serve Friday vs. Grand Canyon. | Dennis Nelson/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 19, 2014 4:38PM
Playing any team three straight times is difficult for each squad. For the team that wins the first two, the mental strain is daunting.
Lewis was faced with that task Friday in its third meeting in seven days against Grand Canyon, this time in the opening round of the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association tournament at Neil Carey Arena.
The No. 2 seed Flyers passed the mental challenge, capturing a 29-27, 25-18, 25-20 victory over the No. 7 Antelopes.
Lewis (22-6) advances to the tournament semifinals and will host No. 3 Ball State (21-7) at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Romeoville.
“They came out prepared, but we took it to them and showed them who we are,” Lewis outside hitter Geoff Powell said of Grand Canyon.
Lewis, which is ranked No. 11 in the latest national poll, stayed perfect in 12 meetings against Grand Canyon behind Powell’s hitting. The junior had a match-high 19 kills for the Flyers.
“It was a good night for me,” Powell said. “Everything clicked.”
BJ Boldog was credited with 37 assists and MIVA Defensive Player of the Week Lucas Yanez led the defense with nine digs.
In the first set, Grand Canyon (14-18) led 26-25 and 27-26, but failed to close. Powell’s ace finally ended it after 12 ties and four lead changes.
“Playing a team three times in seven days, we warned the guys about Game 1 and how they were going to come out,” Lewis coach Dan Friend said of Grand Canyon. “How they responded was going to be key. Twice, they had game point in the first game and we responded. I liked that we found a way to win Game 1, hit the gas midway through Game 2 and put them away in 3.”
Eric Fitterer’s kill from a Boldog set the Flyers a 14-13 lead and some momentum during the second set. With Powell serving, Lewis extended the lead to 18-13 on an Antelopes error. Fitterer’s kill from another Boldog assist capped the set.
In the third set, Lewis never trailed. A Grand Canyon error staked Lewis to a 12-8 lead. Fitterer’s kill ended the match.
“We’re going to have a couple of days off for some family time, get a good prep day Monday, a relax day Tuesday and get after it Wednesday,” Friend said.
“We’re expecting a big crowd out here to support us.”