FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The King University men's volleyball team traveled to Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne on Friday night as part of a two-match road swing against nationally-ranked opponents, falling to the No. 15 Mastodons in a 3-0 sweep despite keeping the second and third sets in doubt until the final moments.
Eddie Moushikhian was unintimidated by the big stage, hitting .389 for the evening with a match-high 19 kills and just five errors. Matthew DeLong had 32 assists for the Tornado (7-11), also combining with Moushikhian to account for both of King's service aces. Jeremy Funk, who currently ranks 17th nationally in digs per set, added to his season average with a match-high nine digs.
The teams were virtually deadlocked in kills, assists, digs, and service errors. IPFW (12-3), however, held King to a .169 attack percentage on 89 attempts because of their team total of 8.5 blocks, while IPFW had one less kill than King on 21 fewer attempts for an attack percentage of .426. Ten Mastodons registered at least one termination, and IPFW hit a blistering .667 in a 25-15 first set victory.
The Mastodons led the second set from start to finish, jumping out to an early 5-1 lead, and forced a Tornado timeout as they pushed their advantage to 12-6 moments later. King kept the deficit manageable before scoring three straight points to trim the IPFW lead to 16-14. King would pull within two points on four more occasions, and used a Moushikhian kill to cut IPFW's lead to just 24-23 before a service error on the next play gave the Mastodons a 2-0 lead in the match.
King came out firing in a third set that featured 10 ties and a pair of lead changes. The Tornado took their first lead at 4-3 and led by as many as three points in the early going. IPFW took the lead for good with a combined block from the entire front line that was the second of five straight IPFW points, giving the Mastodons a 15-14 lead at that time.
King attempted to battle back, closing the deficit to just 22-20 as part of a 4-1 run that featured a Matthew Lychock termination and Moushikhian adding a kill and a service ace. The Tornado, however, would come no closer, as IPFW scored three of the final four points to close out the match with a 25-21 third-set win.
The Tornado will travel to face No. 13 Ball State University on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. King will then participate in a tournament hosted by McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill. before returning to Conference Carolinas play for the season's final five regular season matches. All five conference matches will take place in Bristol, with the first scheduled for 7:00 p.m. against Pfeiffer University on Wednesday, March 19.