The No. 11 Wells College men's volleyball team opened its season with a pair of victories at the 'Slug Slam' tournament on the west coast by sweeping Lakeland University (Plymouth, Wis.) and then disposing of Marymount University (Arlington, Va.) by a 3-1 score at Kaiser Permanente Arena on the campus of the University of California at Santa Cruz on Friday, Jan.10.
In the season opener against Lakeland, the Express won by set scores of 25-10, 27-25 and 25-15. Wells never trailed in the opening set, but the Muskies battled back in the second. Wells trailed by as many as three points on four occasions with the last coming at 14-11. The teams battled back and forth with 10 tie scores ensuing that included the last tie at 25 that sent the match into extra points. A pair of kills by Joe Zimmerman and Josh Undari ended the second set with a 27-25 victory for the Express. The third set again saw Wells trail early at 5-3, but the Express notched 12 of the next 13 points to take a 15-6 lead and never looked back.
Team leaders against Lakeland included Robert Patzer with nine kills and a .368 hitting percentage, while Undari finished tied-third with five kills but at a .714 hitting percentage. Zimmerman and Patzer each registered eight digs, while Justin Williams had a team-high five blocks (two solo). Caden O'Loughlin served up four aces in the match to lead the team.
In the following match against Marymount, the Express rallied after dropping a close first set to take the next three by set scores at 27-25, 25-22 and 25-23. Each set was decided by three points or less.
In the first set against the Saints, the set featured 10 ties with the last at 25-25 before Marymount secured the final two points for a 27-25 Saints win. The Express trailed early in the second set until O'Loughlin served up four points for an 8-7 lead, followed by five points from Jackson Lieber's service play for a 14-9 lead. The Saints rallied and the teams tied five times from points 21 through 25 before the Express got the final two points with the winner coming by ace from Patzer. The third set was decided by a four-point run early with Wells trailing 7-6. It was the only run of four points in the set by either team and when Wells took a 10-7 lead with it, they never looked back. The Express never trailed in the fourth set after taking seven of the set's first eight points. The Saints rallied late twice by tying the contest at 21-all and 22-all before Wells sealed the set and match to go to 2-0 on the season.
Team leaders against Marymount included Zimmerman and Williams with 10 kills each. Undari recorded eight digs with 30 assists, while Patzer added five blocks (one solo). The latter combined with O'Loughlin for a pair of aces each.
Between 100-200 spectators viewed Wells as the games were streamed live via UCSC's YouTube channel. The Express wraps up its California trip with a pair of matches tomorrow beginning with California Luthern University at 1 p.m. and concluding with an 11 p.m. match against nationally-ranked host UCSC. Both contests will be live-streamed.