Carthage wins five-set thriller
Red Men advance to semifinals in win against Golden Flyers
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- It was a bumpy ride, but Carthage (28-5) survived the first night of the first NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Championship on Friday with a 3-2 win in the quarterfinals against No. 5 Nazareth (27-9) at Springfield's Blake Arena. The Red Men's winning set scores against the Golden Flyers were 25-21, 27-25, 26-28, 21-25 and 18-16.
The first set was basically a one-point contest until Carthage finally found a little daylight with a four-point lead at 21-17. Nazareth got no closer than three points the rest of the way, as the Red Men won the first set 25-21 with Randy Hansen collecting six kills. Nazareth had an early 6-3 lead in the second set, which Carthage quickly erased. The Red Men led by two points on three occasions. The Golden Flyers were serving set point 24-23, but Carthage stayed alive by taking the next point and then going ahead by one 25-24. Nazareth tied the set at 25 all, but the Red Men took the next two points for a 27-25 decision.
Carthage had a three-point lead on four occasions in the third set before opening up a four-point lead at 11-7. The Red Men seemingly had the third set in control, as the Golden Flyers were just unable to get any closer than two points until they closed the gap to one, 20-19, and again at 21-20. Nazareth pulled even at 21-21. Following ties at 22-22 and 23-23, the Golden Flyers took their first lead at 24-23. That was the first of three Nazareth attempts at set point, with the first two failing on serve errors. With the score tied at 26-26, the Golden Flyers took a 27-26 lead, and a Hansen attack error gave Nazareth a 28-26 win.
Carthage never led in set four, as the Golden Flyers took an early, 11-7 lead that the Red Men erased with four unanswered points. Nazareth went back up by four 20-16. From that point, Carthage got no closer than two points and lost by four 25-21. The Golden Flyers jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the fifth and final set and still led by three at 6-3, before the Red Men knotted things up at 6-6. Nazareth eased out to a three-point lead at 14-11, but Carthage tied the match at 14-14. Following ties at 15-15 and 16-16, kills by Jim Schultz and Pat Barry gave the Red Men an 18-16 set win and the 3-2 match victory.
Hansen collected a match-high 25 kills and hit. 444. Barry had 21 kills with a .381 attack percentage and four block assists, and Matt Yanz chipped in with 13 kills, a .440 attack percentage, two block solos and eight block assists. Setter Connor Wexter averaged 12.80 assists per set with five block assists. Rob Kraft led Nazareth with 20 kills, a .545 hitting mark and six block assists.