No. 10 Eastern Mennonite Earn First Win of Season


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Harrisonburg, Va. - The Eastern Mennonite University men's volleyball team started off the 2008 season in dramatic fashion as the Royals and the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez scored a combined 80 points in the fourth game (41-39) with EMU eventually coming out on top by a score of 3-2 Thursday night in Yoder Arena.

Game scores were: 27-30, 30-22, 30-32, 41-39, and 15-12. A possible record for most points in a game is not yet available from the American Volleyball Coaches Association or National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Senior outside Ethan Fry (Guatemala City, Guatemala/Christian Academy of Guatemala) had 17 kills and 10 digs for EMU with freshman middle Frankie Coto (Miami, Fla./Southwest Miami) leading the squad with 18 kills and two solo blocks. Senior setter Ben Yoder (Lederach, Pa./Christopher Dock) had 57 assists and 19 digs for the 1-0 Royals.

"It was a complete team effort," said an exhausted EMU head coach Steve Benson following the Royals two and a half hour performance. "Everyone stepped up, especially in the fourth game, and made some big plays towards the end."

The crowd of just over 300 fans saw the Royals battle back from a one-game deficit to tie the contest at 1-1 with UPR-Mayaguez committing two errors in the second game to give EMU the win.

Game three was a see-saw battle with neither team able to build a lead of more than two points. EMU went up 30-29 with senior Calen Hochstetler (Orange Co., Calif./Palomar CC) slamming down the kill on the right side off an assist from Yoder. UPR-Mayaguez countered on a kill by Jose Cappas and then took the match on an attack error by the Royals.

With the Tarzanes up 2-1 the visiting team took advantage of the momentum gained in the third game to take an 11-6 lead early on. The Royals slowly chipped away at the margin with errors by UPR-Mayaguez and a kill by Coto cutting the margin to two (16-18). Yoder recorded a service ace to follow the Coto kill with UPR-Mayaguez then adding another error to briefly tie the game.

Neither team was able to get an advantage as momentum, and the lead, shifted from both sides of the court. EMU and UPR-Mayaguez moved past the 30 point plateau with each team having several chances to end the game. The Tarzanes were up 36-35 but dropped the possible winning point on a service error. EMU, with the game tied, took a 37-36 lead on an attack error but a kill from Jean Ortiz again notted the score at 37. Following an attack error by EMU, Hochstetler tied the game at 38 on a kill and again forced the Tarzanes back into a corner following another attack error by the visiting team. With EMU up 39-38, Ortiz again came up big for UPR-Mayaguez with another kill off an assist from Wilfredo Sevilla.

Following the serve by Ortiz, EMU sophomore middle Justin Reesor (Stouffville, Ontario/Stouffville District) dropped the go-ahead kill right on the tail of the EMU Royals logo on the visiting teams side of the court to give the Royals a 40-39 advantage. Hochstetler then served up the game winner for EMU as Cappas was unable to handle the serve and forced the ball into the net for the error.

The fifth, and final game featured a strong performance from the home team as the boisterous home crowd got behind the Royals as EMU quickly went up 5-2. Following a UPR-Mayaguez timeout, the visiting Tarzanes tied the game at eight all on a kill by Walter Quiles, but EMU again responded thanks to a kill from Fry to move ahead 9-8. UPR-Mayaguez continued to hang with the Royals until the home team pulled ahead 13-9 and eventually 14-9 on kills by Fry and Hochstetler. The visiting Tarzanes kept pressing and needed only two more points to tie before a ball handling error gave the five game match to EMU.

Hochstetler finished with 11 kills and 19 digs for EMU with Reesor adding 10 kills and eight block assists.

Sevilla had 65 assists and 21 digs for Puerto Rico-Mayaguez with Ortiz leading the team with 23 kills.

"Frankie and Ethan both played well tonight," added Benson. "Ben helped rally the troops following the third game and stepped up his play with everyone chipping in and adding something to this win. We need to continue to stay focused and keep playing at a high level and moving forward towards this weekend's tournament and the rest of the season.

The Mount Olive Tri-Match will be the next stop for EMU as the Royals take on Mount Olive on Saturday, January 19, at 1 p.m., followed by a game against King College at 3 p.m.

Article courtesy of Eastern Mennonite athletics.

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