MILWAUKEE - After downing both Marian and Augustana earlier this week, the 14th raked MSOE Raiders men's volleyball squad had their sights set on one of the biggest matches of the season to date. The Red & White welcomed 10th ranked Dominican University to the Kern Center on Saturday afternoon, each looking for another statement win to add to their resumes. Those in attendance were in for a thriller, seeing multiple matches go down to the wire in the 3-1 Raiders win over the Stars inside of Hotchkin Arena.
Coming off back to back 3-0 victories, #14 MSOE (13-6, 7-2 NACC) had to make sure that were focused and fully committed to the game this afternoon. Dominican (9-8, 4-3 NACC) came into today's contest ranked tenth in the country, and in desperate need of snapping their six-game losing skid that dated back to February 21st. There was a feeling out process early in the first set, as neither team assumed more than a one-point lead. After DU rattled off four straight points, putting the Raiders down 6-4, the Red & White went on a tear. MSOE scored all but three of the next 16 points to take a commanding 19-10 lead. The Stars would make up some ground late, but they were never able to pull back within striking distance in the 25-18 loss.
Dominican used the momentum gained at the end of the first frame to stay close early in the second. Once again, the teams played even up, until a controversial two hit call went against DU who were down 12-9 to turn the tides. The Raiders took advantage, going on a 6-3 run to put enough distance between themselves and their opponent. The Stars would fail to get within five points from that moment on, handing the set to the boys in red and white 25-20.
As much as MSOE held control throughout the first two sets, the latter two would be a straight up 180 departure. The Raiders had trouble with service errors in the early portion of the third, allowing DU to take a five-point lead. With the score 15-10 in favor of the Stars, MSOE went on another big run to try the game up at 17-all. They finally took the lead for the first time in the game at 20-19 but ran into trouble late. After a DU timeout at 23-23, the Stars scored the last three points to pull within one set on tying things up.
With Spencer Mueller (Fox Lake, Ill./Carmel Catholic) out with an injury, the Raiders had to dig down deep to finish off the match in four sets. MSOE went down by five early once again, and the middle portion saw the game pull even seven different times. Thankfully, the Red & White were able to prevent the Stars from scoring multiple points in a row late in the frame, and two DU errors down the stretch gave the Raiders their fifth win in a row with the fourth set final score of 26-24.
Austyn Bella (Sherwood, Wis./Kaukauna) was on fire this afternoon, collecting 18 kills off a superb .562 hitting percentage. Quin Krisik (Itasca, Ill./Itasca) and Danny Martens (Northbrook, Ill. Glenbrook North) also came to play in today's game, with Krisik turning in a game high 46 assists and Martens tallying 23 digs, seven more than the nearest Stars player. For Dominican, Jake Sidner held the team lead in kills with 14, and Trey Cowan did the same with 16 digs.
It's NACC play from here on out for the Raiders, as their slate next week includes conference foes Lakeland, Illinois Tech, and Aurora. First up will be the Muskies of Lakeland University, as the two teams will face off at the Kern Center on Wednesday night at 7:00 pm.