By Nick Porter
BUENA VISTA, Va. — The Southern Virginia University men's volleyball team is just in its second year as a program, but the Knights have never lost at home. After huge wins over No. 10 Juniata College and No. 4 UC Santa Cruz on Saturday, the Knights extended their home win streak to ten and capped off a 3-0 weekend over three top-ten teams.
"What an exciting weekend for us," commented head coach Tom Peterson. "We are back in the hunt for the conference playoffs and hope to build on this, that's why the weekend was so important."
The Knights (8-4, 4-2 CVC) opened the day with a 3-1 win over Juniata (7-10, 3-3 CVC). After winning the first and second sets 25-22 and 25-14, the Eagles stole set three, 25-22 to force an extra set. It looked like a fifth set was inevitable as Juniata held a 23-18 advantage, but Southern Virginia closed out the set, and the match, with a 6-1 run to capture the Continental Volleyball Conference win.
Southern Virginia out-attacked Juniata 23.1% to 15.4% despite only have three more kills. Both teams were about even in other categories, save the Knights' season-high 13 blocks to Juniata's seven.
Nahuel Recabarren led all players with 19 kills, followed by Paul Clark's 13. Clark also had three service aces. Setter Kaipo Tagaloa assisted 38 of the team's 50 kills, and Daniel Aina recorded 13 digs. Colby Wilson led all players with six block assists.
The momentum continued in the nightcap as the Knights took the first set 25-22 over UC Santa Cruz (19-6), before falling 25-13 in the second in a set where the Banana Slugs hit .500 and the Knights hit .000. After regrouping between two and three, Southern Virginia took the third set 25-23 despite leading by as many as seven earlier in the game.
The fourth set fell the way of the Slugs, 25-17 forcing a fifth and final set.
The Knights jumped to a quick lead in the deciding set and were within reach of putting it away with an 11-6 lead. Yet, after a Santa Cruz timeout, the Slugs surged and went on an 8-3 run to take a 15-14 lead and match point.
After trading points, the Slugs had their second match point, but the Knights held on and answered with a kill from Mitch Usevitch to tie the game at 15. A Paul Clark kill gave the Knights their first of five match points, but the drama continued back and forth.
With the deciding set tied at 19, the Slugs were given their third match point opportunity from a ball handling error, but back-to-back Colby Wilson kills and a putaway swing from Clark gave the Knights the 22-20 win and the 3-2 victory.
Clark turned 16 of his 47 swings into points to lead the team. Usevitch finished with 12 kills while Wilson had 11 and Recabarren recorded 10. Tagaloa dished a season-high 53 assists.
The Knights will host club teams from Liberty and Virginia Tech on Feb. 21 and 22 before their next big CVC test against Eastern Mennonite on Feb. 28. All three matches will begin at 7 p.m. in the Knight Sports Arena.