GOSHEN — After a marathon of a first set that the Goshen College men’s volleyball team won, 33-31, it seemed like the No. 14 Maple Leafs were going to ride that momentum to a victory over No. 10 Indiana Tech.
The visiting Warriors had different ideas, though. Tech would go on to win the next three sets and leave with a 31-33, 25-22, 25-21, 25-15 victory over Goshen inside Gunden Gymnasium.
The first set was a back-and-forth affair, with the score being tied at 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31 down the stretch. During that period, the Maple Leafs had five potential set points, while the Warriors had four. Tech led 31-30, but then three-straight Goshen points — capped off by a kill from junior Alexander Rabadzhiev — gave the Leafs the first-set victory.
“We’re a scrappy team, and we fight back,” Daugherty said. “And, we did. … first set, we out-blocked them 4-1.”
Hitting struggles would cost Goshen in the second set. After recording 19 kills and only three errors in the first set, the Maple Leafs had just nine kills while committing seven errors in the second. Despite this, the set was tied at 22 before the Warriors rallied off three-straight points to tie the match.
“It was just our guys mishitting,” Daugherty said. “It just comes down to us doing our job. All of our players have to do their jobs and better the ball. We just didn’t do that.”
The power of Indiana Tech eventually caught up to Goshen, as the Warriors won the third set before overtaking the Leafs in the fourth. Daugherty said he thought his team looked tired in the final set.
“We just ran out of gas; I don’t know why,” Daugherty said. “We just ran out of gas there at the end. So, we’ll face them again here in a week (March 2), and we’ll see what happens. But, they’re a scrappy team. They’re good; they keep balls alive as well.”
Tech was also flawless in the final set as well, recording 14 kills and just two errors. They had an attacking percentage of .545 in the set, the highest either team recorded in any set during the match.
“Those are the (kills) that we have to affect with our block, and we had 8.5 blocks at the end of the third set,” said Daugherty, whose team didn’t record a block in the fourth set. “And, normally we’re a good blocking team — like I said, in the first set, we out-blocked them 4-1. We should’ve been out-blocking them, but our middles were struggling. That’s the honest truth; they weren’t there. And, if I have my guys sitting 1-on-1, we tell them to hit them hard. Their guys were sitting 1-on-1 a lot and hit it hard.”
Offensively, Indiana Tech was led by sophomore Daynte Stewart’s 28 kills. Senior Chase Christiansen had 14, and sophomore Chandler Davis tallied 55 assists. It was a big win for the Warriors, as they improve to 9-2 overall and 5-1 in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference.
Goshen College, which had won five in a row coming in, fall to 10-5 and 4-2 in the WHAC. Rabadzhiev led the team with 23 kills, while junior Lucas Sauder had 13. Senior Michael Wahl had 42 assists to lead the Leafs in a losing effort.
Goshen hosts Sienna Heights Friday in another WHAC contest.
“It’s a tough loss, but we should’ve learned that we can play with them,” Daugherty said. “We can block with them and we can also hit with them. We just have to get to that point where we get over that little bit of fear that we can play. When they stayed up on us, that’s when we started to crumble a little bit. We just have to get over that.”