Men’s volleyball ended their week with a sweep over Hiram College to begin conference play. After the Tigers began the week with a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Mount Union.
The Tigers started their week on the road facing Mount Union on Thursday, Feb. 6. Wittenberg fell to the Raiders in four sets. The Tigers took control of the match early as they held at least three-point lead over Mount Union for the majority of the first set. The Tigers pulled away from the Raiders as Jackson Tyler (’20) served an ace to the Raiders to help the Tigers lead the set, 12-8. Tyler led the Tigers’ offensive production against the Raiders as he earned 13 kills. The Tigers won the first set 25-19, and then disappeared as they dropped the second set, 19-25. Wittenberg fought hard during the third set, as they created a 18-16 lead over the Raiders. Mount Union then stole the momentum from underneath the Tigers’ heels, winning three straight points for a 18-19 lead.
Neither the Tigers nor Raiders wished to back down as the third set needed extra points for finalization. The Tigers seceded the third set, 25-27 to the Raiders of Mount Union.
The third sets loss broke the Tigers spirit as they lagged in the fourth set. The closest the Tigers came to a fourth set win was in the final few points as they pulled within three points. Noah Wissel (’20) helped lead the wya for the Tigers with 44 of their 50 assists for the day. Mount Union enjoyed the Tigers for dinner as they captured the fourth set, 20-25, and handed the ninth loss of the season to Wittenberg.
The Tigers returned home following Thursday’s loss to Mount Union to face the Terriers of Hiram College in the first game of their conference schedule. This game also marked the start of the Tigers final year in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference as Wittenberg will be returning to the Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League for the 2021 season. Wittenberg will be joining Baldwin-Wallace and Wabash in the MCVL of for the 2021 season. The MCVL is currently home to Adrian, Mount St. Joseph, Mount Union, Trine, Fontbonne, and Olivet. The Tigers played in the MCVL from 2016 to 2018 before moving to the AMCC in 2019.
The Tigers returned to the Pam Evans Smith Arenas sporting new uniforms.
“We look good, we play good,” said Tyler of the team’s first outing with the new uniforms, and the Tigers took that saying to heart and struck early against Hiram, building a six-point lead in the first set. The Terriers cowered in fear as the Tigers used the opportunity to practice their kills. Tyler earned a career high 20 kills during the match, but credited the passers, including Wissel, with his success during a post-game interview with Wittenberg Athletics. Wissel accounted for 36 of the Tigers’ 43 assists with Fred Halper (’23) accounting for five and Tyler claiming the final assist for the three sets. The Tigers won the first set, 25-18.
The second set started lopsided as the Tigers continued to practice their kills against the Terriers. In an interview after the match, head coach Ryan Thompson praised the time spent on offense in practice as the Tigers killed 47 of 88 balls in three sets. The momentum began to shift away from the Tigers as Hiram killed two balls and enjoyed an attack error by Collin Buelow (’22) to pull themselves within one-point. The Tigers called a timeout as they held a narrow 17-16 lead. Hiram enjoyed the short break and won four points in a row to earn their first lead of the match. The Tigers responded with four points of their own to tie the set at 22, before nailing the set closed with a 26-24 win off a Hiram ball handling error.
The Tigers’ third set was hard fought as they battled closely for the lead early. The Tigers created a seven-point lead before leaping into the air for kills as they smashed the Terriers spirit. The Tigers won the third set, 25-17.
Men’s Volleyball is currently 1-0 in conference play while they hold a 4-9 record overall. The Tigers head south to face Mount St. Joseph this Saturday at 1:00pm in a non-conference match-up. The Tigers then return to the Pam Evans Smith Arena on Tuesday, Feb. 11 to face Mount Union at 7 p.m.