BRISTOL, Tenn. – King Men's Volleyball began the 2013 season with the first of four matches in three days by hosting the Conference Carolinas preseason favorite, Mount Olive Trojans. The Tornado had chances in the first and third sets to clinch set wins but the Trojans overcame and took the match in three sets (28-26, 25-21, 26-24). Stephen Brown led both sides with 12 kills.
At 13-13 in the first set, Mount Olive (1-0, 1-0) began to separate from King scoring the next two points with a service ace and kill by Adam Miracle. They continued on a 7-3 run to lead by four points before King broke their momentum with a timeout. Out of the break, King responded with a 5-1 run with a pair of kills by freshman Eddie Moushikhian (Alpharetta, Ga.) to tie the first at 21. The Tornado forced set point, 24-23, behind junior Stephen Brown's second kill of the game but the Trojans retaliated by breaking and taking the lead, 26-25. Brown recorded his third and final kill of the set to tie the game at 26 however, Mount Olive took the set with two straight points.
In the second set King fell behind by four points and failed to recover through the duration of the set, coming no closer than three points late in the match. After taking a two-set lead, Mount Olive spotted King the first three points of the third set led by Moushikhian at the service line. The freshman recorded a kill and a service ace to help take the early lead, but the Trojans came back to tie the game at the seven-point marker with help from a pair of Mount Olive blocks at the net. King battled back toward a three-point lead, 16-13, scoring four straight points via two consecutive service aces by senior Ashton Hippenstiel (Yucaipa, Calif.) paired with kills by Brown and Michael Koebel (Richmond, Va.).
A Mount Olive timeout broke the momentum and Hippenstiel serving rally and led to the Trojans battling back to tie the game at 17. Both teams took temporary leads with King's 22-21 advantage forcing the Green and White to take a timeout. The Tornado were two points away from forcing a fourth set after Adam Miracle's attack went into the net but he rebounded from his error to record three of the last four kills for his team and force match point, 25-24. Renzo Rossato completed the match with the winning kill after a host of King blockers failed to keep their attempt in play.
Five of Stephen Brown's 12 kills were recorded in the third set alone. The Lawrenceville, Ga. native led both sides in kill count and hit at a .304 clip.
Ashton Hippenstiel recorded all 36 of King's assists while leading the team with four service aces from the line.
Michael Koebel finished with the most digs among his teammates with seven while adding nine kills.
Redshirt-freshman Adrian Lopez led the team in blocks with four assists at the net. He also tallied five kills in his debut with the Tornado.
Also playing in their first collegiate matches were freshmen Eddie Moushikhian, Matthew Lychock, Matthew DeLong, and Zach Prexta. Moushikhian led the freshman class with six kills on 18 attempts (.056) and had two block assists. Lychock notched four kills on six attempts (.333).
Adam Miracle led the Trojans with 11 kills on a team-high 29 attempts. Lewis Einarson was the most efficient hitter of the night, finishing with a .667 kill percentage. He and Renzo Rossato led the Trojans with block assists while Einarson also tallied one solo block.
King (0-1, 0-1 Conference Carolinas) jumps back into action on Friday, Jan. 11, against Rust College as a part of a slew of men's volleyball happening on campus. Mount Olive and Quincy University will precede King in the Student Center at 5:30 p.m. The Tornado will play the Bearcats at 7:30 p.m. while at Kline Gym the Belmont Abbey Crusaders will play Quincy.
The Tornado will finish their flurry of home games with a doubleheader in the Student Center Complex on Saturday, Jan. 12. King will host newcomer to Conference Carolinas Men's Volleyball, Belmont Abbey, at 10 a.m. and conclude their day against Quincy at 12 p.m. Live stats and video will be available for all King matches through the weekend at www.KingTornado.com.