BRISTOL, Tenn. – King University will be the host for the Conference Carolinas Championship on Friday and Saturday. The Tornado are the top seed and will take on fourth seed Belmont Abbey College in the semifinals on Friday night at 5:00 p.m. The second semifinal will feature second seed Barton College and third seed University of Mount Olive at 7:30 p.m.
King enters the weekend with a 21-5 record as the Tornado earned a share of their second straight Conference Carolinas championship with 15-1 record in the league. The Tornado have won at least nine straight matches twice this season, including their current 10-match streak entering Friday night's contest. Earlier this season, the Tornado won a program record 26 sets.
The Tornado are led by the senior trio of Nick Drooker, Jeff Sprayberry and Kiel Bell. Drooker ranks second in the league with an average of 9.68 assists per set and seventh with 0.40 aces per set. He sets to Sprayberry and Bell who rank third and fifth in the league with averages of 3.62 and 3.09 kills per set, respectively. In the middle, Jon Wheaton leads the league with an average of 1.04 blocks per set and third with a .348 attack percentage.
Second seed Barton enters the semifinals having won 15 of their last 16 matches. Their only defeat came to King on April 6 in Bristol, ending their season-long 13-match winning streak. The Bulldogs enter Friday with an overall record of 20-7, going 15-1 in Conference Carolinas play to claim a share of the regular season title. A season ago, the Bulldogs won the Conference Carolinas Tournament championship and advanced to the NCAA Division II Men's Volleyball Championship.
Barton is led by Vasilis Mandilaris who ranks second in the league in kills per set at 4.02 and total kills with 370. He is also fourth in Conference Carolinas with an attack percentage of .313. Aleksa Brkovic isn't far behind in terms of attack percentage as he ranks fifth in the lead with a .303 attack percentage. He also ranks fifth with an average of 0.44 aces per set. Setter Oscar Fiorentino leads Conference Carolinas with an average of 9.82 assists per set.
Third seed University of Mount Olive enters Friday with an overall record of 16-12. Going 11-5 in Conference Carolinas play. The Trojans started the season will, winning eight of their first 11 matches, including a seven-match winning streak. Mount Olive enters the weekend as the top serving team in the conference with 160 service aces for an average of 1.6 aces per set. The Trojans fell to Barton a season ago in the Conference Carolinas Tournament championship match.
Robert Poole paces the Trojan offense with an average of 3.28 kills per set and 308 kills, raking fourth and third in the league, respectively. He also leads Conference Carolinas with an average of 0.73 aces per set. Josh Donahue has been big in the back row for the Trojans, ranking third in the league with 244 digs and fourth with an average of 2.49 digs per set. Jeff Yasalonis runs the offense as he ranks third in the league with an average of 9.60 assists per set.
Belmont Abbey enters as the fourth seed with an overall record of 13-15, going 8-8 in Conference Carolinas play. The Crusaders have been hot of late, winning five straight contest before falling to North Greenville University in the regular season finale. However, the Crusaders defeated North Greenville in the quarterfinals. Belmont Abbey leads the league with 1,203 kills and 1,031 digs, however, their averages of 11.04 kills and 9.46 digs per set rank fourth and fifth in the league, respectively.
The Crusaders are led by Liam Maxwell who leads Conference Carolinas with 452 kills and an average of 4.30 kills per set. On the defensive side, Rob Valentine anchors the back row as he ranks second in the league with 294 digs and an average of 2.77 digs per set. At the net, William Morris ranks second in the league with an average of 0.98 blocks per set. Setter Brennan Davis hands out 8.50 assists per set, a mark that ranks fifth in Conference Carolinas.
The semifinal matches will take place on Friday night in the Student Center Complex with King taking on Belmont Abbey at 5:00 p.m., followed by Barton and Mount Olive at 7:30 p.m. The championship match is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the Student Center Complex on Saturday.