LEBANON, Ill. – Seeking to get back into the win column, the King University men's volleyball team opened play at the McKendree Crossover Classic with a sweep of the homestanding Bearcats.
The Tornado (8-12) were led to their first victory in six matches behind a dominant offensive performance. Eddie Moushikhian paced King with 13 kills. Nick Serowski and Kiel Bell joined Moushikhian in double figures with 11 and 10 kills, respectively, giving the Tornado three players with at least 10 kills for the third time this season. King had 44 terminations and hit .352 for the match, its second-highest hitting percentage of the season.
Bell recorded his first career double-double with 10 digs to go along with his 10 kills. Jeff Bosslet also turned in a double-double, notching match highs with 38 assists and 11 digs. Bosslet rounded out his stellar day with a match-high two aces and tied for the match lead in blocks, including two solo stuffs, to lead a King attack that had 7.0 team blocks.
A heads-up play by Bosslet late in the first set turned the match in King's favor. The Tornado used a 6-1 run early in the set to take a 12-8 lead and force a McKendree (7-17) timeout. But the Bearcats responded with a 7-3 run and took a 16-15 lead moments later. The teams traded points and, with the score deadlocked at 19, a McKendree attack ricocheted off of Moushikhian and appeared destined to fall out of reach of any Tornado players. But Bosslet alertly kicked the ball up to keep it alive, and King sent it over the net and forced a Bearcats' attack error moments later. The play sparked a 6-0 run by the Tornado, with five points being scored on McKendree errors, to give King the 25-19 victory in the first set.
In a match that featured 28 ties and 12 lead changes, the second set was also tight for much of the early going. The Tornado held a slim 13-12 lead after a kill by McKendree's Dustin Bornstein, who led the Bearcats with 11 terminations on the afternoon. Mason Casner slammed home a pass from Bosslet to spark a 5-1 King run that left the Tornado with an 18-13 lead, however, and the Bearcats were never able to pull within three points during the rest of the set. King closed the set on a service ace from Nick Serowski, one of four Tornado aces in the match, to seal a second 25-19 win.
Continuing the theme of the first two sets, a Bornstein kill pulled McKendree within a point of the Tornado at 19-18. But Serowski's two kills stretched the King lead to three points, and Moushikhian closed the match with four kills, including on each of the last three points, to give King its first sweep since February 22.
The Tornado hit at a blistering clip for the match. Only one player who had 10 or more attempts for the match hit below the .300 mark, and Serowski led the way by hitting .476 on 21 attempts. McKendree's Bornstein hit .320 on 25 attempts, but the Bearcats were held to just .184 as a team, with 35 kills and 17 errors in their 98 attempts.
King will return to action with a pair of games on Saturday at the McKendree Crossover Classic. The Tornado will face Quincy University at noon, a team that defeated King 3-1 on January 18 in Bristol, before taking on Lindenwood (Mo.) University at 3:00 p.m.