Ross, Miller, Kuchenbecker, shine for Duhawks
by Aaron Broege
Nine matches into the season, men’s volleyball is looking like a formidable opponent in the Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League.
While a record of two wins and four losses in the conference leaves something to be desired, the Duhawks’ home record of 3-1, along with their overall record of 4-5, proves that there is much more to come from this team. With a slew of returners and six new athletes, experience will be key as the Duhawks look to improve on their previous season.
The season got off to a great start with an emphatic win over Mount Mercy and Illinois Tech. With a pair of 3-0 sweeps, the Duhawks were primed to perform. Junior Dylan Ross’ 13 kills, and sophomore Austin Kuchenbecker’s .625 attack percentage helped ease the Duhawks past both teams.
The Duhawks’ momentum was slowed by Quincy in the third match of the season, as Loras took a 3-0 loss, despite close sets. Not all was lost in the match, however. The Loras defense showed up to play that day, with 13 team digs, and seven players recording each one. Despite their first loss, the men proved that they were capable of playing as a team.
In their first conference match of the season, the Duhawks traveled to Greenville, where they earned their first victory outside of Dubuque. Greenville put up a fight, but the men were able to pull through with a 3-2 win over the Panthers. Ross led the way with a program-record 20 kills, while sophomore Alfredo Lopez and junior Shayne Marquez combined for 60 assists, giving the offense a massive boost. The win marked the first time in the program’s three-year history that Loras opened conference play with a win.
The Duhawks hit a losing skid starting with a trip to Missouri, where they took on Fontbonne in another conference match. Despite leading the first two sets, Fontbonne was able to turn the tables and win in three straight sets. Ohio was not a welcoming state for the Duhawks either, as they faced losses to both Wittenberg and Mount St. Joseph.
Against Wittenberg, the Duhawks were able to bring the match to five sets, largely in part to standout performances from both Kuchenbecker and sophomore Aaron Miller.
With Loras down 2-0, the Duhawks mounted a comeback, winning sets three and four. Unfortunately, Wittenberg got the best of the Duhawks in set five, taking it 15-10.
The match against Mount St. Joseph was not as close, despite Loras winning the first set by a convincing margin. A breakout performance by Ian Walsh was not enough to stop the Lions’ rally, as Mount St. Joseph went on to win the next three sets. This loss wrapped up the end of a five match away campaign, in which the Duhawks were able to pull out one win.
With a 1-3 record in the conference, the Duhawks returned home to face Benedictine for a much needed win. A dramatic match followed, with Loras narrowly winning the first two sets, matched by Benedictine taking sets three and four from the Duhawks.
The home magic was with the Duhawks that night, as they took the fifth set in dominant fashion, earning another home win and their second win in the conference. Three Duhawks combined for 43 of the 61 kills, contributing greatly to the victory.
Unfortunately, the home win streak came to a close on Saturday as MSOE got the best of the Duhawks. In their sixth conference game, the Duhawks dropped three straight sets, falling to 2-4 in the conference, and 4-5 overall.
Up next for the Duhawks is Marian University, who enters the match at 3-5 overall with a 2-2 record in the MCVL. With the match at home, make sure to go support your Men’s Volleyball team at 7 p.m. from Lillis Court, as they look to improve their conference record, as well as get to .500 overall.