King drops four-set nailbiter at Mount Olive

Photo taken by Rachel Burrus

MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – The King University men's volleyball team saw its three-match winning streak come to an end on Saturday afternoon, falling to preseason Conference Carolinas favorite University of Mount Olive in four sets.

The Tornado (5-4, 2-2 Conference Carolinas) won a nail-biting first set 28-26, then saw the Trojans (4-6, 3-2 CC) take a 2-1 lead in the match with relative ease. The fourth set was competitive throughout and included a Tornado comeback in the closing moments, but the defending conference champions took the victory with a 25-23 win in the fourth set.

Four Trojans reached double figures in kills, including 20 by Garret Dimm on 37 attempts. Angel Dache added 16, while Lewis Einarson and Andrew Sydow had 15 and 11 kills. In the match, Mount Olive hit .366 with 67 kills.

Much like the last two times it has taken the court, the Tornado found themselves locked in a thrilling back-and-forth set that set the tone for the match. The first set saw 20 ties and seven lead changes, with neither team leading by more than two points during the entire set. With the Tornado trailing 24-23 after a Dimm kill, Eddie Moushikhian slammed home a kill to tie the set, then the Tornado took the lead on an attack error by Dimm.

The Trojans fought back to tie the match at 25 and 26 points. Angel Dache, the conference's leader in kills, went on the attack for the Trojans, but Mason Casner and Matthew DeLong combined on a block to give King a 27-26 lead, then DeLong punctuated the first-set victory with an ace. In the opening set, Nick Serowski totaled six kills while Moushikhian and Casner added five each.

DeLong had 45 assists on the afternoon. Casner hit .550 with 12 kills and just one error in 20 attempts, adding a service ace and three blocks. Moushikhian had a double-double, matching Casner's 12 kills and contributing 10 digs. Serowski led the team with 16 kills. After 14.5 blocks Friday night at Barton College, King only managed four stuffs on the day, but balanced the low blocking totals by hitting .301 as a team.

The second set remained close until three straight kills by the Trojans gave Mount Olive a 19-13 advantage. The hosts wasted no time gaining control in the third, embarking on an 11-1 run to gain a stranglehold on the set with a 14-3 lead and cruised to the 25-14 victory.

The Tornado trailed by as many as five points in the fourth set before slowly climbing back into contention. Mount Olive led 16-11, but King battled back to pull within a point at 23-22 after a Serowski kill. Serowski again cut the deficit to a point with a kill to make the score 24-23, but a kill from Dache on match point allowed Mount Olive to avoid a fifth set and take the match.

King returns to action on Tuesday, traveling to Limestone College in a match against Conference Carolinas' second-place team. The Tornado opened the season against Limestone in Bristol on January 17, with the Saints claiming a 3-1 victory. Moushikhian hit .565 with 15 kills in the match, while Limestone freshman Joel Muhlbach had 11 kills on 15 errorless attempts. First serve from Gaffney, S.C. is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.