Bobcats sweep Tornado, end season

BANNER ELK, N.C. – Coming into Tuesday's regular season finale at Lees-McRae, the King University men's volleyball team knew they need to win to qualify for the Conference Carolinas tournament. However, the Bobcats came out on fire and defeated the Tornado 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-23).

After the Bobcats (17-11, 10-6 CC) scored the first point, King's Jeremy Funk answered with a kill to even the score. However, Lees-McRae scored three straight points to take the lead. The Bobcats didn't look back as they gained a 16-9 lead and cruised to the 25-15 first set victory.

The Bobcat offense didn't slow down in the second set, quickly opening up a 7-3 lead in the second set. Following a 5-1 run, Lees-McRae opened up their largest lead of the set at 20-11. The Bobcats went on to take the set 25-16 and a 2-0 lead.

Mason Casner sparked the King (10-18, 5-11 CC) offense with one of his three kills to start the third set. Matthew Harper recorded two kills, and Michael Koebel added another one on a 9-3 run that gave king an 11-4 lead. Nevertheless, Lees-McRae chipped away at their deficit and finally evened the set at 18 following a 4-0 spurt. The score was tied at 19, 20 and 21 before the Bobcats went on another run. The Bobcats got back-to-back kills from Randy Ramirez to take a 23-21 lead and force a Tornado timeout. King fought off one match point with a Casner kill, but the Bobcats ended the 25-23 victory with a kill to take the match 3-0.

With the loss, and Belmont Abbey College's win over Coker College, the Tornado end the regular season in a tie for sixth place in Conference Carolinas. Belmont Abbey wins the tiebreaker over the Tornado to claim the final spot in the Conference Carolinas tournament.

Playing in their final career match, Koebel tied for the team lead with seven kills while Ashton Hippenstiel dished out 21 assists. Ned Parker registered three digs in his final match in a King uniform. Funk also recorded seven kills while Stephen Brown led King with eight digs in the match.