LEXINGTON, Va. — The Southern Virginia University men's volleyball team captured the University's first conference title and NCAA DIII Tournament appearance after defeating Juniata College in a five-set thriller, 3-2 in the Continental Volleyball Conference Championship game Saturday afternoon.
The Knights (23-3, 11-0) took an early 2-0 lead after claiming the first two sets 25-22 and 25-20, hitting .314 while registering 28 kills.
In the third, the Eagles (22-8, 9-2) bounced back with a 7-2 run midway through the set to secure a dominant 25-16 victory while hitting .526 scoring and scoring on 11 of the teams 19 attacks.
Juniata scored the first three points in the fourth set, but the Knights responded with a 5-1 run to take their first lead of the set 5-4 advantage. For the remainder of the set, the game stayed within two points until tied at 24-24, the Eagles scored two consecutive points to steal a 26-24 win.
Despite trailing 5-2 early in the final set, the Knights put together their strongest performance, hitting .545 compared to the Eagles' .111. After a 6-6 tie, the Knights sealed the game on a 9-4 run collecting the CVC Championship and a 15-10 victory.
"They are a very good team and have improved as the season has gone on," said Head Coach Tom Peterson. "Throughout our season we have gained valuable experience playing in some five-set games. We had a dip in our energy in the third and fourth sets, we knew we had to have the effort and the desire in the final set and we executed."
Nahuel Recabarren made program history as the first to win the CVC Tournament Most Valuable Player honors after a career-high and program record 33 kills. His 33 kills were also the most in a single Division III game this season. He finished the game with two digs and a team-high four total blocks.
Danny Aina and Colby Wilson both received All-Tournament honors. Aina tied a team-high with 11 digs and a pair of assists at the libero position. Wilson tallied 11 kills, hitting .433 while adding a service ace, two digs and a block. Paul Clark recorded five kills with 11 digs and Mitch Usevitch added seven kills and a pair of blocks. Kaipo Tagaloa recorded a game-high 54 assists.
Quinn Peterson led the Eagles with 20 kills.
The Knights now wait to see who and where they will play in the NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Tournament. The live selection show will be shown on ncaa.com Monday, April 15 at 10:00 a.m.