As the men’s volleyball team begins to round out their season, they continue to face multiple worthy opponents. Recently, in a stretch of three games, the Duhawks faced two teams high atop the MCVL, North Central and Carthage, as well as Greenville, which proved to be an even matchup.
In the last road game of the Duhawk’s season, the men traveled to Naperville, IL, to face the Cardinals. At 8-4 in the MCVL, the Duhawks knew they would have their hands full. Despite the final match score of 3-0, it does not tell the whole story, as the Duhawks forced extra points in the second match, and a narrow W for the Cardinals in the third set. With a second set score of 29-27, and a third match score of 25-23, the wins were just out of reach for the Duhawks at North Central.
To highlight the positives, sophomore Leo Peters was on a roll, putting down nine kills on 11 attempts, resulting in an impressive .818 attack percentage. Junior Dylan Ross recorded his 500th career kill as well, bringing his season total to 201.
Loras returned home for a one week break before taking on their most challenging opponent for the remainder of the season. No. 4 Carthage proved to be worth all the hype, downing the Duhawks in three sets. It was a hard-fought loss, but the men could not band together an attack to challenge one of the top teams in the nation. As Carthage improved to 16-0 in the conference and 19-1 overall, the Duhawks fell to 5-12 in the conference, with an overall record of 8-14.
Despite the loss, Peters continued his hot streak, working with senior Aaron Miller to record 13 kills and a .313 attack percentage.
The Duhawks continued their home stand with a match against Greenville the next day. In their first meeting, the Duhawks edged Carthage with a 3-2 victory. Unfortunately, the match spun the other direction this time, with Greenville winning 3-2 in a nerve-wracking fifth match. The teams went back and forth, with Loras winning sets one and three, and Greenville winning sets two and four. The final set was back and forth, with the two teams matching at 12-all. Set five would need extra volleyball, as the teams scored back and forth to bring the final set to 19-all. A final charge from the Panthers sealed the win at 21-19 for Greenville.
The closest loss of the season brought some outstanding performances from the Duhawk men. Sophomore Austin Kuchenbecker totaled 11 kills and hit .667 on the day. This was accompanied with sophomore Alfredo Lopez passing the 200 mark in career digs, and sophomore Aaron Miller racking up a career-high 11 kills.
“Some people wanted it today, and it showed,” said head coach Jeremy Thornburg. “But I think that Greenville wanted it more, and you could see it in the fifth set.”
With the first set being an easy win for the Duhawks, and the sets coming much closer after that, Thornburg was asked what happened to the momentum.
“When they make errors and hand it to us in the first frame it makes us look really good. But when we get pushed, we don’t rise to the occasion. I don’t think some guys trusted themselves.”
The loss brought the Duhawks to 5-14 in the conference, 8-16 overall.
With one game remaining in the Duhawks’ season, the Duhawks stay at home to take on Olivet. The Duhawks will look to finish off the season with a win as the young group gets ready to improve and dominate the MCVL next season. Be in the AWC at 3 p.m. this Saturday to watch the Duhawks finish off their season.