OSKALOOSA – The William Penn men’s volleyball team met up with Clarke at the Penn Activity Center Thursday night to make up its postponed game from Tuesday’s weather delay. Each team took one victory in the series last year, setting up a “rubber match” between the two in their third ever meeting. Both sides worked hard all night long, but the Statesmen put the ball away when it counted, leading to a 3-0 set sweep of the Pride. With scores of 25-22, 25-20, and 25-22, the Statesmen improve to 2-1 overall and in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.
The Pride were quick off the line in each set, taking a 4-0 lead in the first. CJ Rettig (So., Sierra Madre, Calif., Physical Education) got the navy and gold on the board on a free ball put-back. Connor Muff (Jr., Kenosha, Wis., Business Management) then collected the first ace of the game, but Clarke took the next couple of points.
Down 7-3, WPU went on a hot streak to take an 11-10 lead, with kills from Anthony Torres (Fr., Aurora, Ill., Computer Science), Charlie Figy (Fr., Appleton, Wis., Sports Management), and Ike Papes (So., Elwood, Ill., Business Management). After the run, both teams exchanged points through the middle stages of the opening frame. The Statesmen finally took hold of the set after a kill by Figy made the score 18-17. The squad ran the lead out to 21-18 before Clarke replied, but it was too late, as WPU ended the set on a kill by Torres, winning 25-22.
Set two again saw the Pride go up first, taking the first two points, before a kill from Torres and an error knotted the score at 2-2. Both teams marched forward to a slim lead, only for the other to come right back. Level at 10-10, Rettig pounded down a kill on a smooth pass from Muff to put William Penn ahead. This sparked a 9-2 run that gave the Statesmen a strong grasp on the frame, leading 20-15.
The home side then let Clarke climb back into the game a little, with the lead shrinking to three at 23-20. But a big kill by Eli Herro (So., Dousman, Wis., Business Management) and another ace by Muff secured the 25-20 decision. There was also a great moment in the set for Shawn Mason (Jr., Orlando, Fla., Sociology), who made his season debut and battled hard for a couple rallies.
Set three started with Clarke taking the first three points. Two errors cut the gap, but Clarke remained a step ahead through the early stages. WPU once again found its footing and made Clarke pay for its errors, tying the game at 9-9. Luke Scheuble (So., Hemet, Calif., Wellness & Recreation), who missed all of last year, collected his first kill as a Statesmen on a dump down the line to give WPU a one-point edge.
The Pride were up to the task and as the set moved along, neither side could pull away by more than two points. WPU seemed to have something brewing when it went up 19-17, but a couple rallies later, the score was equal at 20-20.
Victor Jerez (Jr., Miami, Fla., Secondary Edication) then delivered an ace to give the team a lead they would not relinquish. Kills from Rettig and Torres gave the Statesmen a 24-21 lead, and Figy would collect the final kill, completing the sweep 25-22.
The Statesmen had 44 kills on the night, hitting at a .258 percentage. The team also had five aces on the night and 35 digs. Papes and Rettig each had 11 kills to pace the lineup, while Figy was right behind them with 10. Torres was third with eight kills for the match. Muff ran the offense all night, racking up 41 assists. Muff and Rettig tied for a team-high seven digs, while Carlos Garcia (So., Laredo, Texas, Biology), who looked more comfortable in his new role, collected six digs. Torres and Muff each nailed two aces on the night.
“Tonight was a great night for our program,” said Head Coach Luke Bentley. “I am extremely pleased with the effort we put forth on the court, but more impressed with the overall attitude of this team. We had some players step in and contribute in a huge way. I can’t say enough about our resiliency tonight.”
The Statesmen will host Graceland in Heart play next Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Penn Activity Center.