BRISTOL, Tenn. – King University Men's Volleyball rebounded with a big 3-1 (25-10, 25-20, 25-27, 25-20) over the Coker Cobras in the Student Center Complex, Friday night. Michael Koebel and Mason Casner shared the team lead with 12 kills while Koebel added to a career night with eight block assists.
The Tornado ruled the net once again outblocking the Cobras by more than 12 total blocks over the four-set match. Koebel, a native of Richmond, Va., led the way with a career-high eight block assists, also leading the team in the category. The senior hit at a .265 clip and only committed three errors.
Keeping pace with Koebel in kill count was sophomore middle blocker Mason Casner. The Culpepper, Va. native matched Koebel with 12 kills and did so in just three sets and committed one fewer error in almost half the attempts. Casner went 12-for-18 with only two errors to finish the night with a .556 hitting percentage. He was strong at the net, as well, tallying four of the team's 33 block assists.
King (4-5, 3-4 Conference Carolinas) cruised to a 25-10 opening set victory behind strong hitting and Coker committing 13 hitting errors in the set. The second set started just as strong for the Tornado after jumping out to a five-point lead, 8-3, but the Cobras began to warm up on the attack as Luke Hansen put together five kills to help create a 15-15 tie toward the middle of the set. With a service ace by Koebel and another kill by Casner, King created a two-point advantage that was supported later by a late kill from junior Stephen Brown (Lawrenceville, Ga.) to put King up 21-18. Brown tossed in a second kill to force match point only to be followed by Koebel's third and final kill of the game. King took a 2-0 lead after clinching the second before Coker responded with a fiery third set.
Despite the two-game advantage, Coker swung well offensive in the third en route to a 27-25 victory over the Tornado. The Cobras went 15-for-26 with only two attack errors (.500) to match King's strongest hitting performance of the night. King fought back from three points down, 22-19, to come with one before Ricardo Ferrer put down his third kill of the set. King broke match point twice with kills by Koebel and Casner but Jared Geizer's kill added to Liam Flaherty painting the line to clinch the third set with a service ace.
Game four began as the first two sets had started as King both capitalized on Coker mistakes and hit their way to an early 8-3 lead. The Cobras battled back to come within two points, keeping within reach until King went on a three-point run with two additional kills by Casner. The swing helped create a 20-15 lead and the Tornado held that advantage to the end, clinching the match.
Stephen Brown (Lawrenceville, Ga.) was the third of three King players to finish with more than 10 kills. The junior went 11-for-18 (.500) with two errors and shared the team lead with eight digs. Freshman Zach Prexta (Lewisberry, Pa.) was the second Tornado with eight digs while the two combined for seven block assists and one solo block. He was one of four players to record four block assists.
Other notable performers for King include senior setter Ashton Hippenstiel (Yucaipa, Calif.) who had 40 of the teams 44 assists and added six kills, five digs, and four blocks assists to his line. Matthew Harper continued his strong play off the bench, posting three kills and six block assists.
Luke Hansen led Coker with 16 kills (.294) while Christopher Gbelay (13) and Jared Geizer (10) followed with double-digit kill nights as well. Ricardo Ferrer posted an all-around night with 37 assists, a match-high 10 digs, and five kills.
With the win, King has now won four of its last five, including all three of the team's Conference Carolinas victories. They will now head to Franklin Springs, Ga. to play in a tournament hosted by Emmanuel College. They will kick off their stay against the hosts on Friday, Feb. 8 at 3 p.m. and play again that evening against the Warner University Royals at 9 p.m. The Tornado will conclude their stay against Rust College the following morning at 11 a.m.
King will be playing Emmanuel and Warner for the first time this season while meeting the Bearcats for the second time. King defeated Rust in straights sets for their first win of the season on Jan. 11.