HARTSVILLE, S.C. – With both teams vying for the final spot in the Conference Carolinas tournament, the King University men's volleyball team knew they would be in for a fight when the traveled to Coker College on Friday. The Tornado quickly took the first two sets, only to see the Cobras for a decisive fifth set. King grabbed the early lead in the fifth frame and didn't look back en route to the 15-10 set win, and 3-2 victory.
The Tornado (10-17, 5-10 CC) never trailed in the first set, and opened up a 17-10 lead behind a quick 4-0 spurt. King earned their largest lead of the set, 22-14 on an Ashton Hippenstiel ace before taking the set 25-18.
Coker (5-14, 3-11) earned a 5-3 lead early in the second set, but the Tornado rallied and answered with another 4-0 run to gain the lead. The Cobras came back and took a 15-14 lead, but a service error evened the set at 15. Jeremy Funk followed with an ace to give the Tornado the lead. Coker came back to even the set at 21, but the Tornado scored four of the final five points, capped by back-to-back kills by Matthew Lychock and Stephen Brown to take the set 25-22.
It appeared as the Tornado would take the sweep in the third set as Lychock recorded another kill to give King a 20-16 lead. However, the Cobras rallied to even the score at 22 and force a King timeout. After the break, the Cobras scored back-to-back points, forcing another timeout at set point. The Tornado scored a point, but Luke Hansen extended the match with a kill, giving Coker the 25-23 win.
With the Tornado leading 10-9 in the fourth set, the Cobra offense rolled off five straight points to take command of the set. Coker opened up a 20-14 lead, and eventually took the set 25-20 to force a fifth set.
King gained some separation in the fifth set by scoring three straight points to take a 6-3. The spurt was started by one of Hippenstiel's five kills in the match. The Tornado extended the lead to 11-6 on consecutive Coker attack errors, forcing a Cobra timeout. Funk gave King a 13-10 advantage with one of his six kills in the match, before the Tornado scored the final two points to escape with the 15-10, 3-2 win.
Michael Koebel and Lychock led the Tornado with 12 and 11 kills, respectively. Hippenstiel recorded his second straight double-double with 32 assists and a match-high 13 digs. Ned Parker also reached double figures in digs with 11.
The Tornado wraps up regular season play on Tuesday when they travel to Lees-McRae. First serve is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. in Banner Elk, N.C.