KANSAS CITY, Mo. - This past weekend the men's volleyball team traveled to play in the last and biggest tournament in the country. Teams from all over the country compete in a three-day Division II national tournament.
Adrian started the tournament ranked 22nd out of 48 teams. On day one the Bulldogs had three matches to play against Georgetown University, Bryant College, and UW-Eau Claire in that order. Each game was more difficult then the next, but it wasn't until the final match of day one that the team was really challenged. UW-Eau Claire was the top seed in pool play and both teams were 2-0 for the day. The match decided who continued on to the Gold Bracket and who had to work their way back up to even contend for the Gold Bracket. Both teams came out swinging. Each team held the lead numerous times before the Bulldogs went on a three-point run to secure game one, 25-22. Game 2 proved to be just as exciting as the lead continued to go back and forth between teams. Big swings and even bigger digs, showed the Bulldogs were able to hold off Eau-Claire to win the game 28-26. RJ Adams ran a balanced offense with 29 assists. Spencer Simmons led the Bulldogs on the attack with 10 kills, followed by Avery Johnson with six, Michael Flowers with five, and John Berling and Nick Oderio with four, respectively. With that win the Bulldogs move up to become the 11th seed in the tournament.
Day 2's opponents were UW-River Falls and Missouri Science and Tech. The Bulldogs made short work of UW-River Falls and secured their spot in the Gold Bracket on the final day. The match against Missouri S&T decided who became the sixth seed or the 11th seed. Game 1 saw Missouri S&T hold the lead for the entire game, but the Bulldogs kept chipping away at their lead. Missouri S&T had game point up 24-18, but AC scored and put Adams back to serve. He served five straight points tying the game at 24-24. Needing to win by two, the teams traded points back and forth up to 27. From there the Bulldogs pulled away and took the game 29-27. In game 2, Missouri S&T came out strong and held the lead for the entire game winning 20-25. In the third and final game to 15, the Bulldogs started off with an early lead that eventually carried them to victory 15-11. Simmons led the way with 14 kills and Michael Flowers and Nick Oderio put on a show at the net totaling 5.5 blocks.
The top 16 teams were in the single-elimination Gold Bracket. The Bulldogs' first opponent was Dordt College (Iowa). The Bulldogs started strong and finished strong with scores of 25-19, 25-18, advancing them to the quarterfinals against another undefeated team, Sonoma State. The Bulldogs and Sonoma State traded points with tough serving and defensive plays from Craig Lantz and Travis Wobrock, but Sonoma State pulled ahead with a five-point lead to take the first game 25-20. In game 2, the Bulldogs took an early lead but Sonoma State was relentless. AC held the lead at 23-19 when Sonoma State went on a serving run. The game was tied at 23-23 with both teams trading points. In the end, Sonoma State was victorious winning 28-26. The game ended just as fast as it began. Flowers put up 4.5 blocks for the Bulldogs.
"The Bulldogs ended up finishing top five in the nation and that is something to be proud of," said head coach Michael Morici. "This team started four years ago as a club program and it is taking the next step towards becoming an NCAA Division III program next season. I want to thank the seniors and everyone who has been a part of the program to make it what it is today."