Despite not earning a win, EMU's young volleyball men gave a good showing against a nationally ranked Elms College team on Saturday in Harrisonburg. Returning just two of seven starters from 2018, the Royals made some runs against an Elms team that advanced to last year's NCAA Tournament.
Saturday's season opener had been scheduled to include Messiah in a tri-match format, but the Falcons did not make the trip because of the forecasted snow in Pennsylvania. As a result, the Royals played a doubleheader against Elms.
EMU has the week off before heading to Arcadia in Glenside, Pa., next weekend for the Knight Classic. The men take on John Jay next Saturday at 5:00pm, followed by Elmira and host Arcadia on Sunday.
No. 15 Elms, 3, EMU 0
The Royals played well in the opener, but dropped identical 25-20 scores in the first two sets. EMU was within 21-19 in the second, before the Blazers closed on a 4-1 run.
In the third, the men had a strong start, using a 4-0 jab to go ahead 8-6. The score remained tight until Elms blew things open and used a 10-2 streak to win going away, 25-16.
Travis Abele (Mechanicsville, Va./Lee-Davis) was main offensive force with 10 kills and three aces, while adding eight digs on the defensive side. R.J. Ocampo (Virginia Beach, Va./First Colonial) landed six kills without any errors and made two blocks. Sean Wright (Glen Allen, Va./Deep Run) had a team best nine digs and four blocks.
Jake Johnson led Elms with nine kills while Daniel Martinez had eight.
No. 15 Elms, 3, EMU 0
The visitors had most of the momentum in the second match, streaking to a 25-15 win in the first set.
The Royals fell in a quick hole in the next set, but erupted on a 9-1 run to skip ahead 11-10. Freshman Drew Bennett (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks) landed back-to-back aces to finish off the run, building some buzz among the home fans. But a 5-0 run from Elms took the momentum back, which they held to a 25-22 finish.
A 6-0 run early in the third took the wind out of EMU's sails, as the Blazers closed the day on a 25-17 score.
Abele landed nine more kills, followed again by Ocampo at five. Wyatt Bollinger (Harrisonburg, Va./Eastern Mennonite) put up 16 assists along with three ace serves.
Wright made some big plays in the back row, leading all players with 10 digs.
David Hernandez topped Elms with nine kills. Jovanny Torres added eight kills and eight digs.